Campaigners fail in high court bid to stop development

Royal Courts of Justice ,The Strand London

Royal Courts of Justice. Pic: 5@Antartis

It was a different sort of Black Friday for Botley folk opposed to development at Boorley Green after a judicial review into Eastleigh Borough Council’s decision to grant outline planning permission for up to 1,400 new homes at Boorley was dismissed by a High Court Judge.

Botley Parish Action Group (BPAG) had brought the action in conjunction with Botley Parish Council (BPC) and was accompanied to the hearing by members of the Botley Park Golfers protest group.

Also present in court were representatives for the council and the developers.

It had already taken two attempts by BPAG to get the matter to a judicial hearing after conditional planning permission for the development had been granted at a heated marathon session of the Hedge End, West End, and Botley Local Area Committee (HEWEB) in February 2013 (read Ray Turner’s report here).

On Friday Lord Justice Collins said it was “unfortunate” that there had been a delay in progressing the matter because there was an “urgent” need for housing in Botley.

While outlining the case the judge described the current planning process in general as “overly complicated” and said the application should have been dealt with in a “speedy manner.”

Although objectors had previously stated multiple reasons for opposing development at Boorley Green, in the end the legal argument hinged on a single point of law.

BPAG’s barrister contended that council planning officers whom, he claimed, suggested that members needn’t consider alternative sites – namely land at Allington Lane – had given the councillors at the HEWEB meeting in February 2013 “erroneous advice.”

“The availability of an alternative site is a material consideration.

It is wrong in law not to advise members that an alternative site cannot be a material consideration”

BPAG’s brief argued that the proposed Boorley development was an exceptional one in terms of size consisting of 1,400 houses going into an 81 hectare site complete with affordable and assisted living housing units, community facilities, a primary school and 4,000 square metre of employment floor space which would make it the biggest single development in Eastleigh for quarter of a century.

There had also been a high number of objections – over 600.

On this basis, according to BPAG, other alternatives including the Allington Lane site should have been considered.

From the outset of the hearing Lord Justice Collins made it clear that he was not in a position to consider the relative merits of either the Boorley or Allington site but only whether or not the planning decision had been arrived at lawfully.

But after hearing arguments from both sides the judge finally sided with Eastleigh Borough Council.

The judge said there was an urgent need for housing in Botley partly because Eastleigh Borough Council had failed in it’s requirement to provide a five year housing supply but he also noted that the site at Allington Lane had previously been considered by the council and rejected as unsuitable and furthermore he thought it was significant that there had been no interest from developers for the West End site.

In dismissing the claim the judge concluded that Eastleigh council officers had done no wrong:

“Officers cannot be criticised for approaching the matter as they did.

I’m satisfied there was no error of law.”

The council’s lawyers asked for an increase in their application for costs.

Under the ‘Aarhus Convention’ parties bringing cases against public authorities on environmental matters could have their costs limited to ensure access to justice.

Both BPAG and BPC had anticipated paying £5,000 each but Lord Justice Collins was persuaded to increase BPC’s liability to £10,000 –making a total of £15,000 against the two parties – although the defence lawyers observed that Eastleigh Borough Council’s costs ‘comfortably exceeded’ this sum.

Despite being clearly disappointed with the latest setback and surprise hike in costs – “this is not what I would call natural justice” said BPC Chair Colin Mercer – the Botley delegation managed to remain upbeat.

Spokesperson Sue Grinham vowed “This is not the end of BPAG” and promised that the pressure group would continue to oppose development in Botley at the local plan hearings and individual planning applications as they arose.

Mrs Grinham pointed out that neither BPAG nor BPC were opposed to more housing in Botley and had previously suggested to Eastleigh Borough Council that the area could absorb up to 500 new homes elsewhere in the parish.

BAPAG told Eastleigh News they would carefully consider the possibility of an appeal and said it was “ironic” that the council had to rely on their own “mismanagement” of the local housing supply in their defence.

A Council spokesman said:

“The Council welcomes the decision of the High Court to uphold the decision of Eastleigh Borough Council to grant outline planning permission at Boorley Green.

This ruling enables the borough council to continue to bring forward much needed new housing and community facilities on this site in consultation with developers and the local community.”

  35 comments for “Campaigners fail in high court bid to stop development

  1. Keith House
    November 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    The Borough Council does not have a five year land supply. For a short time this was not the case, mainly due to the legal proceedings that have slowed down the Boorley Green decision. This has put other greenfield sites at risk, and will continue to do so until the Boorley Green development gets back on schedule. The irony is that some of these sites are in Botley and also adjacent to Boorley Green.

    • Eastleigh voter
      November 30, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      Your fault no one else’s no 5 year land housing supply or a local In place on Jan 1st 2011.
      You are at fault 100%!
      You have done this before
      Shame on you Mr House.

    • Eastleigh voter
      December 1, 2014 at 6:31 am

      UNTRUE AND YOU KNOW IT!

    • December 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Your local plan does not have much of substance whatsoever , and I am very happy to debate you on it’s merits .

      In fact I will boldly throw down the gauntlet on this special day of daily mail fame . (which is probably difficult for your loved ones and I sympathize but you made that bed……. so you lie in it)

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2855381/Lib-Dem-chief-dumps-lover-election-night-councillor-90-000-boss-promotes-one-other.html

      I don’t care about any of that…. I want a leader that does his job openly and allows scrutiny so…..

      .debate me on your plan in public……… or resign.

      I’ve got my own plan and I think it’s better than yours , and people need a chance to be fully informed , properly consulted , so agree
      to debate me…

      or tell me you won’t

      with a couple of sentences to explain why,

      you do work for my community and neighbourhood plans have statutory backing

      tell us yes/no here and now , please or i claim the right to email and call you until you do make a public statement

      it is virtuous to punish the heinous just as much as it is virtuous to praise the good

      • December 1, 2014 at 5:20 pm

        Unbelievable. You dont care about the mans picadillos and you stick the link on your post.
        Rigel, if you are gonna call out the Leader of the Borough, at least make some sense. Re-read what you have posted and please, be honest, does it make sense to you?

  2. Keith House
    November 30, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    The first sentence here should of course have been “The Borough Council does NOW have a five year land supply”.

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      November 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Don’t worry, no one will notice.

    • December 1, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      do you mean EBC does have a 5year land supply today or

      it will have if the plan is adopted ?

      and when you say for a short time it didn’t ? what do you mean ?

      doesnt a reduction in the housing list of 5000 people reduce your housing requirement estimates ?

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      December 2, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Seems your first version was the correct one Keith.

  3. John Renard
    November 30, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    And so we look forward to the next Lib Dem newsletter etc etc proclaiming that they are ‘Protecting Your Countryside’ and ‘Safeguarding the Green Spaces Between the Villages’.

    Pass the sick bag, Alice . . .

  4. Eastleigh voter
    December 1, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Big message here is if you like concrete vote Lib Dem next May.
    If you like Greenfield’s DON’ T VOTE LIB DEM!!

  5. Eastleigh voter
    December 1, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Interesting article on Mr House in today’s Daily Mail.!
    Worth a read.

  6. John Edwards
    December 1, 2014 at 8:00 am

    So Eric Pickles much vaunted localism bill fails the people once again.

    Interesting to note that at the last general election the Conservatives received £3.3 million pounds from developers/builders.

    I was also interested to reading The mail on Sunday, the dramatic effect that immigration has had on the county’s of England. Hampshire is very interesting to read.

  7. Eastleigh Voter
    December 1, 2014 at 9:00 am

    What have UKIP done to help…………NOTHING

    • December 1, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      what have you done ?

  8. david
    December 1, 2014 at 9:35 am

    FIB DEMs letting down the people in favour of their own agenda. Solent city here we come.

  9. December 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Starting to get a bit miffed by the Silly Kippers, who make snide remarks about the failure of EBC. As much as I am against their policy on Housing and Commercialism, together with the pact with the Tories, these Silly Kippers really need to put a policy together so that the voter can at least see if they can spell. If you are making comments on this site, at least put your name to the post. The comment above regarding the Daily Fail is largely irrelevant to this discussion. For he who has no sin…………etc.

    • December 1, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Yes but not entirely irrelevant , it is KH’s plan and I think him debating me would be a fantastic democratic experiment.

      —– after he’s whimped it——- any one else want to debate /discuss the issues in public with me ?…. in his stead – Mark Latham ?, im happy to have an impartial moderator and even do it at a labour event ?

      after all I agree with everything you say below , but I’m actually interested in solutions not votes

  10. December 1, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Reward for failure and deception?
    Failing to plan properly, after many years in the control of one party, is evident. Also the idea that no developer was interested in alternative sites? The council state of the West End site “The site is owned by a consortium of landowners and developers represented by a single agent.” Clearly it was of interest, was the judge made aware of this?
    EBC have taken the easiest route. Green field development of dormitory homes without traffic infrastructure, in fact without even proper sewerage! The lack of a Local Plan means the council know they will lose to developers on appeal and would rather fight residents – it’s cheaper. The car dependency will mean misery for hundreds of residents. It is common for developers to renegotiate their contributions, and given the weak and disorganised manner EBC have approached this, they will succeed in reducing their obligation. It has also been reported that a further 680 homes are proposed in the area – so it begins.
    The most shocking part of this report though, is the illiberal determination to make those who express dissent pay as a punishment. It is even more sobering given that today Parliament debates Coalition proposals to make even judicial review beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. I expect the sitting MP will vote in favour of this pernicious policy. Shame.
    Mark Latham (Labour PPC Eastleigh)

  11. Eastleigh voter
    December 1, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    It would seem Wilderness ward has now only one Councillor.
    Jenny Huges resigns! Same on HETC?

    • December 3, 2014 at 7:50 am

      I asked the question at last night’s Finance committee. The Town Clerk confirmed Cllr Hughes has resigned from HETC.

  12. December 1, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    here is my FOI into the cost of the local plan

    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cost_of_local_plan_preparation#incoming-587102

    EBC say it will take 150hrs of work to know what the plan cost the taxpayer

    I’m guessing about £3 million – KH do you dispute my figure ?

  13. Sam
    December 2, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    THE MDA (Major Development Area)

    Way back to “Allington Lane” where the Lib Dems were opposed to the plans. “So what happened!

    Keith House contacted the government inspector with plans made to use brown field-sites down in Eastleigh she agreed.

    (Keith House) became the Leader of the Liberal Democrats) and the MDA was closed down.

    “Senior Lib Dems at Fair Oak should hold their heads in SHAME!!!!

    Sam

  14. Eastleigh voter
    December 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    EBC local plan 2011 – 2029 suspended by the Inspector.
    Questions over housing numbers and no 5 year housing land supply.
    What a cock up by EBC led by the Lib Dems.
    Now its a housing turkey shoot just in time for Christmas!!

    • Eastleigh voter
      December 3, 2014 at 12:20 am

      EBC Lib Dems focussed on the wrong area.
      Should have listened to their planners and gone with Allington Lane that can take 5,000 homes easily.
      If they had done this in 2011 they would have had a Local Plan AND a 5 year Land housing supply.

    • Biffer
      December 3, 2014 at 5:54 am

      Has the local plan been suspended because of housing numbers/five years supply or just till the January hearings?

  15. Sam
    December 5, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    South East England Overcrowded>
    Allington Lane? Who closed down the MDA?

    GOV .UK
    Land identified to build more than 100,000 homes.

    Whitehall departments are set to smash the Prime
    Minister’s ambition to release previously -used public
    land for building the homes the country needs.

    New figures show that ministers have identified enough
    surplus public land, such as empty offices, unused storage
    unused storage or empty public service buildings, to build
    up to 102,000 homes with more to come.

    This means the government is already well on track to
    exceed the Prime Minster’s ambition to release enough
    surplus land for 102,000 homes.(with more to follow)

    Organisations across the public services including the
    NHS, Ministry of defence and Department for Transport,
    will now play a critical role in helping to build the new
    homes that communities want and that the country needs.

    Eastleigh Borough Council has site’s in the Borough such
    as the Law Court’s-Empty Offices-Allotments at Woodside.

    Local people have no say in what happens where we live.
    and our councillors dare not, challenge their master!!!!!!
    Sam

  16. Sam
    December 7, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Liberal Democrats put pressure on local councillors to stop development
    at the MDA. Lib Dem Councillors promised to promote Keith House as party leader, if he stopped the development.

    Cllr House called back the inspector, to close down the MDA and move down into brownfield sites Eastleigh Town– she agreed.Surely records are kept. (I would suggest the date 1974).

    I may be wrong! Would Cllr House let me know.
    Sam.

    • Sam
      December 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      NO reply from Councillor House ? ?
      Sam

  17. Rosie
    December 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    I see that a committee of MPs have declared that there should be no building close to main roads or motorways, because of the impact on the health of residents – especially children – who are subjected to breathing in traffic fumes. (Well, many Eastleigh Borough residents could have told them that without the need to set up an expensive Committee!).
    Does that mean that the Lib Dems – who we would hope would care for the health of their residents, especially children, including their own – will now do something to stop the (already approved) planning applications for high density housing, including over 30% affordable housing, to be sandwiched between the A27 and M27 at Bursledon, from Bursledon Windmill down to Blundell Lane? (Sites BU1 and BU2 on the Draft Local Plan – with applications already pushed through by the Lib Dems in advance of Local Plan approval).
    Or will they go ahead with their plans and do nothing to address these major health concerns?
    Perhaps our Borough Council Leader and our local Lib Dem Councillors would like to walk the length of the A27 from Windhover Roundabout down to the River at Blundell Lane (and up and down Dodwell Lane), between the hours of 4pm and 6.30pm over a period of several days during a normal working week (and not during the Christmas or school holidays!), to see how bad the traffic fumes already are?

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