This report has been compiled following the AGM, held on 2 December 2019. It is essentially a summary of key developments. Please contact the group if you would like more detail on any item
A year dominated by the Judicial Review
Our monthly meetings and ongoing activity have been dominated by the JR. At the start of the year we had no idea when the decision notice would be published (the Outline Planning Permission had been agreed in November 2017!). We knew that we would have just 6 weeks to launch a JR after the publication of the DN.
The DN was published in May and we spent the months before then
- Selecting chambers who could lead a JR; negotiating fees; understanding the JR process.
- Using the Chambers to prepare a PAP (Pre-Action Protocol) letter. This would be sent to the Council on the publication of the DN setting out our case.
- Researching our case
- Researching fundraising options – These largely involved crowd funding companies. We chose crowdfunder
- Holding a public meeting in the WI Hall – which proved very successful
- Building the support base. In this regard we were very much more active in using the website and social media.
- Publicising the case. We obtained extensive coverage in the Telegraph with a smaller piece in the Times. A full half day with Anna Varle resulted in substantial coverage on BBC Spotlight.
- In addition we leafletted the town and took out a large advert in the Bridport News
Applying for the JR
Following the publication of the DN we had just 6 weeks to refine our case and secure the funding (our target £34,000). We are extremely grateful to CPRE Dorset who agreed to match fund our efforts up to £10.000. This gave the momentum to our efforts and we made the target. What a wonderful response. CPRE support has provided a professional backdrop to our work.
The fundraising has made it increasingly important that we maintain excellent contact with our supporters and donors. The increased use of the website and social media has been at the heart of these efforts.
Progress on the JR
After an initial set back when the ‘paper review ‘of our case saw the judge agree with the Council position, we received an oral hearing in the Courts at Cardiff in October. Our barrister faced the Council Barrister and 2 QC’s from Hallam the developers. The Judge agreed our case is arguable and should be heard in full court. We await the date of the hearing which should be Spring 2020.
Since October we have been in dialogue with our Chambers to improve our case and to prepare our response to the Council/Hallam defence case.
Links to others nationally and locally
In the past year we have helped individuals who sought our advice/experience to help a planning appeal. We are increasingly contacted by other protest groups across the country. There are plans for joint meetings and actions from the 6 groups in Dorset who are opposing the creeping suburbanisation of Dorset.
Ongoing research and strategy
We are planning ahead on all scenarios. If the JR is lost, we intend to challenge the detailed plans. This will bring back into play factors not currently within the JR. An example of this is the safe access of pedestrians, cyclists and traffic along West Road with its narrow pavements. Any developer can expect a rough passage!
What keeps us going?
As 2020 begins ADVEARSE will begin its 8th year. Above all we highlight the fact that VF will be twice the size of any other development in the country in an AONB. (Look up the FARTHINGLOE case). We believe the planners prejudged the allocation and misled the Planning Committee into agreeing with the development. We are sustained by the vast number of people who totally oppose it.
So, a year of real achievement. A small steering group has sustained a complex fight and has had the courage to take on the Council and developer. This could not have been achieved without public support. Thanks to all.
So, the prospect of a National Park for Dorset, renewed concern about climate change and the needless loss of farmland, more awareness of brown field sites, Let us win the JR and re open the debate about the exceptional circumstances to justify VF. It is a fight worth sustaining.
Barry Bates – Chair