Fri, 24 Aug 2012
Tewkesbury Borough Council has lodged a legal challenge against the Secretary of State's decision to give permission for two major housing developments in Bishop's Cleeve.
In July the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government gave Comparo Ltd. permission to build a further 450 homes at Homelands Farm, and Welbeck Strategic Land permission to build 550 homes to the north west of Bishop's Cleeve at a site known as Cleevelands.
The decisions went against widespread local opposition and despite the fact the council is currently drawing up a strategy for dealing with housing need in partnership with Cheltenham and Gloucester.
The borough council announced at the time that it was extremely disappointed with the decisions, and following legal advice on the merits of challenging the Secretary of State's decision, it has officially lodged a legal challenge.
The challenge is based on the need to deliver housing in a way that is consistent with central government policy, which focuses on locally-based decisions about the scale and location of housing development.
Tewkesbury Borough Council's Lead Member for Built Environment Cllr Derek Davies said: "A senior planning barrister has advised that there is a strong case to challenge the Secretary of State's decision.
"There is an overarching principle in planning that requires policy to be interpreted and applied in such a way that is consistent with the reasons behind that policy. We feel that the Secretary of State has failed to apply this principle in this case.
"The council considers that these decisions go against the government's declared policy of removing top-down planning and allowing planning decisions to be made at the local level by the communities that are most affected. It is inconsistent with the Localism Act and the principles behind that.
"The council is concerned that the government appears to be imposing decisions in an ad hoc way through the appeal process before decisions on the future development of the area have been made at a local level in accordance with the government's localism agenda.
"There are already a number of existing permissions throughout the borough for new housing, and the relatively slow speed of house-building on these sites, where indeed work has started, indicates that it is not a lack of planning permissions that is delaying the delivery of housing.
"While we fully support the need to provide housing to meet current and future needs, this should be through a plan-led process., and we are continuing to work with our partners at Cheltenham and Gloucester on a Joint Core Strategy that will aim to meet those needs on a properly planned local basis."