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Parish council’s High Court victory in fight against Constable country homes

Opponents outside the Babergh District Council offices after plans for 144 homes were approved by a planning committee

Opponents outside the Babergh District Council offices after plans for 144 homes were approved by a planning committee


Lawyers have hailed a High Court ruling to block 10 homes from being built in the heart of Constable country as a decisive victory with implications for housing across the district.

Anti-housing campaign posters in East Bergholt. Picture: LUCY TAYLORAnti-housing campaign posters in East Bergholt. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

On Friday, East Bergholt Parish Council won its battle to overturn a decision by Babergh District Council to permit the development in Hadleigh Road.

Mr Justice Mitting ruled that Babergh District Council was wrong to approve an application for the 10 homes to be built in the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and birthplace of painter John Constable.

East Bergholt Parish Council launched a judicial review into the decision, made in March, arguing it was not in keeping with local aspirations for the village.

Lawyers said Babergh approved the development while the village was still developing its own Neighbourhood Development Plan.

David Bowman, the Royds Withy King solicitor acting for the council, said the judgment could block development of as many as 415 homes across the district.

“This is a decisive and strategic win for the parish council, which represents the villagers of East Bergholt, and which challenged Babergh District Council’s disregard for the needs of the local community when it granted planning permission for this, and other major developments in the village,” he said.

“The judge decided that Babergh District Council had made a number of material legal errors, including misrepresenting to councillors what ‘local housing needs’ means in the context of the Local Plan.

“Councillors had been told that they needed to take into account the needs of the district as a whole, when, in fact, they had to take into account only the needs of the core village and its immediate environs.

“He agreed with the parish council’s interpretation and evidence that the needs of the local area are different to those of the wider district. He also agreed that the council had failed to carry out the correct exercise in deciding whether this development on land within the Dedham Vale AONB had an exceptional reason to overrule the ordinary prohibition on development.”

The dispute arose after the district council’s planning committee approved two separate applications to build a total of 154 homes in East Bergholt.

Campaigners now believe the separate decision to permit a 144-home development, and a third development of an additional 75 homes currently going through the planning process could also be affected by the High Court judgement.

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