All posts by Phil Summerton

JR Update

We had a meeting with our lawyers on Friday. They will be preparing our updated detailed arguments for the full Judicial Review and have a deadline of 8 November for this to be lodged with the court. It is vital that we make these arguments as strong as possible with supporting evidence.
Over the next week we will be working hard to provide all the additional evidence to help our case.

The prospective date for the full JR hearing is 8-10 January. It is likely to last one day and will be held in Cardiff.

Press Coverage

Since the permission to go to a full judicial review there has been some coverage on local and national media. The campaign has been mentioned on BBC Spotlight (updating the feature from a couple of months ago), radio coverage on BBC Solent and Wessex FM and of course Bridport News.

We are not aware of any further National media coverage – but if you are then please let us know.


Judge grants ADVEARSE judicial review

On 3 October a judge gave residents’ campaign group ADVEARSE the go ahead for a full judicial review (JR) against Dorset Council’s approval for the biggest ever development in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). ADVEARSE members and supporters were in the civil court in Cardiff this week for the oral hearing. Their case was put by Matthew Henderson of Landmark Chambers who faced barristers and QCs representing Dorset Council and the developer, Hallam Land Management. He argued that the decision to grant outline planning permission for an urban development of over 700 houses, industrial units and other mixed use in the West Dorset countryside was open to legal challenge. The main focus was on the fact that all of the development area of Vearse Farm, outside Bridport, lies within the AONB which should only be built on under stipulated exceptional circumstances, and even then the scale of the development should be limited. The judge agreed that the case is ‘arguable’ and gave his permission for it to proceed to a full hearing. It was deemed to be a significant case in planning law and the JR is therefore likely to take place early in the new year.

ADVEARSE Chair Barry Bates commented ‘We are delighted with today’s decision. It confirms we have a case which is strong enough to be heard.’

ADVEARSE has the support of Dorset CPRE who see the case to be of national significance because if the development were to go ahead it would put into question the protection of all other AONB land in the country. Barry Bates said ‘We are fully aware of the pressure on councils to find building sites. In taking this action we hope to highlight the flaws in current planning policy which make it possible for developers to hold local authorities to ransom and build anywhere they like on green belt and AONB land, rendering councils and local residents completely powerless to object[1]. The truth is, there are no exceptional circumstances to justify this massive development, and the lack of any feasible affordable housing provision means there are no public interest benefits.’

He added ‘Vearse Farm was identified nearly a decade ago and times have changed. The news this week that Dorset and East Devon is being considered for National Park status will add further questions about the suitability of this site. It is now time for the new unified Dorset Council to reconsider this scheme.’

ADVEARSE gave thanks again to supporters who donated over £35,000 to make this case possible. 

ADVEARSE will provide further updates following further discussions with the legal team.

[1] Current government policy dictates that councils must meet a five-year housing supply target based on a standard methodology which the CPRE believes may greatly over estimate house-building need (, and which is not weighted differently to protect the countryside by ensuring lower growth expectations in rural areas.  Further, the Local Plan for the West Dorset area fails to identify any available brownfield sites for development and fails to meet local affordable housing need.

Judge grants Advearse Judicial Review

NEWS FLASH: We are delighted to announce that at an oral hearing in Cardiff yesterday the judge gave ADVEARSE the go head for a full judicial review against Dorset Council’s approval for the Vearse Farm Bridport urban extension – the biggest ever development in an AONB. The judge agreed that the case is ‘arguable’ and gave his permission for it to proceed to a full hearing. It was deemed to be a significant case in planning law and the JR is therefore likely to take place early in the new year. In the next few days we will be providing more information in a press release and hope to get local and national coverage. Thanks again so much for everyone’s support.

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.

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.