Campaigners fight housing plans with legal challenge

By Ginny Ware   |   Totnes Reporter   |
Saturday 2nd July 2022 4:00 pm
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Angry residents in Dartington are backing a legal challenge against the recent planning permission granted to developer, Baker Estates, to build 80 new homes at Broom Park.

A resident, who does not wish to be named, has initiated legal action against the planning authority, South Hams Council.

The claimant is calling for a Judicial Review of the planning process after raising concerns about the lawfulness of the consultation process, in terms of the environment.

Fellow villagers have formed a support group called ‘Heart of Dartington’ and are aiming to raise £13,000 to fund the legal challenge.

Supporter Mark O’Connell said: “There is a heartfelt wish to be able to welcome people into an expanding community, alongside a strong sense of anger that we have not been fully and properly listened to.

“We hope South Hams Council and Baker Estates will meet us prior to Judicial Review, alongside heritage and design experts who should have been properly consulted in the first place, to mediate a better outcome.

“Or the case may go to Judicial Review which would, if successful, quash the final planning decision and initiate a period of reviewing all of the reserved matters on this development.

“We wish to send a signal to South Hams Council, Dartington Trust which sold the site, and the developers, that we will hold them to account for not listening to the needs of the local community and environmental concerns.”

The group has already raised £3,000 towards legal costs but need another £13,000, which would include paying court costs should they lose the case.

In a statement, the group says the London-based solicitors, Hodge, Jones and Allen, found no evidence that an internal consultation, formal or otherwise, was carried out with the heritage officer.

Mark said: “This is important input at this stage of the planning process where the suitability of the proposed appearance, scale and layout of the dwellings; the landscaping of the site; as well as the amount of open space are being decided on.”

Questions remain about potential flood risks, and residents are concerned about the impact the development will have on air quality and wildlife, said Mark.

Dartington ward councillor, Jacqi Hodgson, who vehemently opposed the plans at the district council’s planning meeting, insisted: “Local planning authorities should ensure they follow their own policies, not leave it to residents to call them out”.

Residents believe with a creative and progressive input, any housing development at Broom Park could consist of world-leading environmentally friendly, affordable homes the village could be proud of.

Marc insists: “Residents demand a more respectful and sincere engagement from South Hams Council and from Baker Estates to create a more appropriate design that better serves the unique heritage of this area.”

Nicole Stacey, Baker’s planning director, said: “We can confirm a local resident has issued judicial review proceedings against South Hams Council.

“Inevitably, Baker Estates will be impacted, but the courts have not yet decided whether the alleged grounds are worthy of review.

“The claim was made on the final day of the six-week permissible period with no attempt to comply with the required pre-action consultation with South Hams Council and ourselves.

“This is of course disappointing, not least because the delivery of new homes may be further delayed.

“This, I’m sure, will be particularly frustrating to those in dire need of housing, particularly the long list of families waiting for new affordable homes.”

For more information and to donate visit www.heartofdartington.com

A district council spokesman said: “The council can confirm it has received a Judicial Review application in relation to a planning application in Dartington.

“As the formal legal process has commenced, the council will not comment on live proceedings.”

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