All posts by Phil Summerton

Update on Judicial Review

The appeal against the initial rejection of our Judicial Review application will be held at an oral permission hearing listed for 3 October 2019. The hearing will be held at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre, 2 Park Street, CF10 1ET but the time of day will only be notified the day before.   The hearing will be in public and members from the Advearse Steering Group will be attending. If you are interested in attending the hearing then please contact us so we can coordinate and advise you about the arrangements. Our lawyers have said that it cannot hurt our case having a good attendance from the local community to demonstrate the depth of feeling on the issue.   Our lawyers have noted that these hearings are usually short and may last between 30 minutes and 2 hours. This is because the judge will only be determining if we have an “arguable” case, so won’t be looking into it in much detail.  The judge will almost certainly announce the decision on the day. Judgment is normally given orally at the conclusion of the submissions.  On very rare a occasions judgement may be ‘reserved’ with a written decision and judgment to follow.   Our lawyer will attend and make oral arguments having made a further written submission. The Defendant (Dorset Council) and the Interested Party (Hallam Land) may instruct counsel to attend and oppose our application.

It is important to note that the hearing will be in front of a different judge to the one who rejected our initial application. The outcome of the hearing is difficult to predict but we have been advised that it is not unusual for permission to be granted at an oral hearing. If permission is granted then we would be able to progress our case to a full judicial review court hearing.   Once we have received the decision from the oral hearing (win or lose) we will be discussing the outcome with our lawyers in deciding on our next steps. Our aim is by 8th October to issue a statement to our donors and also release a press statement.   Thanks for your ongoing interest and support.

Legal Case – Latest News

We have received the judges decision on our application to proceed with a judicial review against the Vearse Farm urban extension planning permission.

Disappointingly the judge has declined our application, but has not rejected it out of hand. This meant that we were able to make a renewed application for permission which will be heard at an oral hearing in front of a different judge. The case has been referred to the Cardiff Regional Court and hearing will be held at Bristol.

Our lawyers are currently preparing our renewed application and this should be lodged tomorrow at the court. Once we know when the oral hearing will be held we will release an update.

Our lawyers still believe that our case has merit and we are hopeful that we can still obtain permission and take the case to a full judicial review hearing in court.

Legal Case Update

As mentioned in an earlier post, we went ahead with the Judicial Review claim and lodged the court papers on 12th June.

Our understanding is that our case has been allocated to a judge for review, but that this review has not yet occurred. This is probably due to delays at the court given it is the summer holiday season.

So we are still at the permission stage awaiting to hear if a judge considers our case to have sufficient merit to go to a full hearing in the Administrative Court.

We are still hopeful to have news by the end of August and be able to take our challenge to a full court hearing.




Daily Telegraph article

Saturday 20th July saw an article in the Daily Telegraph outlining the campaign against the Vearse Farm urban extension to Bridport.

This national media coverage is very welcome and follows on from the recent BBC Spotlight feature.

Below is the link to the Telegraph article. In the meantime we continue with our judicial review and will provide an update once we have some news.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/19/dorset-council-faces-legal-fight-housing-development-inarea/

BBC Spotlight feature

Last week BBC Spotlight sent a journalist (Anna Varle) to interview Advearse and Dorset CPRE representatives. She spent 4 hours filming in various locations including our meeting, top of Allington Hill and by the Bridport medical centre.

The feature will be aired on BBC 1 Spotlight at 6.30pm on Monday 24 June. As well as the Vearse Farm development the feature will also cover other plans to build on AONB countryside in West Dorset. We hope that our campaign being featured on TV will attract further media coverage.

Whilst we have raised the funds to finance the Judicial Review we still need to build our support base and demonstrate to Dorset Council the massive depth of opposition against this huge Bridport Urban extension on AONB countryside.

Fundraising target met!

After tremendous support we have just reached the £34,000 fundraising target! This includes the pledges from the Crowdfunder appeal which closed at 6pm on 17th June. A huge Thank You to all our donors and also to the CPRE for their £10,000 matched funding pledge.

As mentioned in the last post, we went ahead with the Judicial Review claim. The papers for the claim were lodged on 12th June and have been acknowledged by the court. The Defendant (Dorset Council) and Interested Party (Hallam) have now been formally served them with the claim and have 3 weeks to respond (ie by 10 July).

Next there is a permission stage to the Judicial Review process where our case will be assessed by a judge. This is likely to be between 2-6 weeks after the 10 July. So most likely we will get news on this during August.

If we obtain permission then we progress to the full hearing in the Administrative Court which if held in London probably won’t be earlier than December 2019. However, there is a high chance that the case will be transferred to the nearest regional Administrative Court (in our case Bristol) in which case it would probably be heard in the Autumn (eg around October).

We will continue to post updates as our claim progresses!

Crowdfunder deadline extended

We have been able to extend our crowdfunder deadline by 7 days to 17 June. This gives more time to collect the remaining funds to meet the Judicial Review fundraising target. We have also been able to make a special pledge of £5,000 onto crowdfunder based on the direct donations received.

We are talking to some media outlets and hope that the campaign will now attract wider media attention.

Thanks for your fantastic support!

Update on Judicial Review

After much deliberation and discussion with our lawyers, ADVEARSE have made a decision to go ahead with the judicial review (JR) to challenge the outline planning permission for the Bridport urban extension on area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) land at Vearse Farm.

We are just over £2,500 short of the funds needed to meet the costs of the JR and have five days left to raise this remaining sum. But we have every confidence that our supporters and donors will help to reach this target.

On Friday 31 May we had a long call with our lawyers to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our case after receiving a reply from Dorset Council to our pre-action protocol letter which set out our case for challenging their planning decision. As the arguments were complicated we took time over the last few days to raise further questions and make sure we had a clear understanding of the situation and all our options.

We also discussed the legal advice with Dorset CPRE who have confirmed their £10,000 matched-funding support.

We are humbled and grateful for the fantastic support of local people and people from wider Dorset and beyond. We have close to 300 donors who have made direct donations and pledges on our Crowdfunder campaign site. The overwhelming support and feedback we have received has been a great motivating factor in our decision to proceed with the JR.

This is a vital environmental case because this is set to be the biggest ever development to be built on AONB land and, if left unchallenged, it will set a dangerous precedent allowing developers and councils from ignoring the rules protecting the countryside nationwide.

Please help by donating via our Bridport-based Crowdfunder page

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-west-dorset-aonb

Or you can send a cheque to ADVEARSE at 10 West Mead, Bridport, DT6 5RU

Update on legal position

Yesterday (Friday 31 May) we had a long phone call with our lawyers. They went through the reply from Dorset Council in great detail pointing out their updated view on the strengths and weaknesses in our case.

The situation is complicated and over the weekend we will be assessing all the information we have been given and also going back to the lawyers with further questions to make sure we have a clear understanding of the situation and all our options.

We will also be discussing this with Dorset CPRE on Monday to obtain their views. By Tuesday we should have completed all these discussions and be able to give you a further update.