Category Archives: Newsflash

Post Judicial review Update

On Wednesday Barry Bates (Chair Advearse) was interviewed on Radio Solent. The link below if the the programme with Barry’s interview being after 28 minutes (at 7.28am).

In the interview Barry notes that the Vearse Farm development is the largest ever incursion into the AONB – and hence is a national issue on so many levels including the protecting the green spaces and the environment and loss of valuable farm land.

We are currently working on our strategy now that the judicial review legal challenge has come to an end. Other options for opposing the Vearse Farm urbanisation of Bridport are under review and we will shortly be sharing this strategy with our supporters to obtain their input on the best way forward.

In the meantime anyone wishing to be added to our list of supporters please email us. You don’t have to be a local resident or live in Dorset to be concerned about the damage of this development

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p088bky5

Verdict on Vearse Farm judicial review

6 April 2020
PRESS RELEASE

ADVEARSE has, overall, lost its judicial review of West Dorset Council’s outline planning permission for what is believed to be the biggest ever development on a single area of outstanding natural beauty at Vearse Farm, Bridport.
In a written judgment issued on Monday 6 April, ADVEARSE was found to have won the legal argument on the first ground of their case — that the former West Dorset Council (since subsumed into the new unitary authority) had failed to have regard to statutory provisions and national
planning rules that require the harmful impact of the development on the conservation area and heritage assets to be assessed against the public benefits. The judge, Mr Justice Swift, said that ADVEARSE’s criticisms were ‘well-founded’ as the Council had not properly addressed the application of the relevant section of the National Planning Policy Framework, ‘a matter material to the decision the Council had to take.’ However, the judge said, ‘The role of the court is no more than to ensure that the decision and the decision-making process meet basic legal standards’, and because he believed the Council’s inadequacies may have made no difference to the committee’s ultimate decision, he had to rule against the claimants. The other two grounds of the case were rejected.
In court, ADVEARSE’s barrister, Matthew Henderson from Landmark Chambers, revealed defects and demonstrated that key objections and information from statutory experts, such as the conservation officer, the landscape officer and the AONB team, had been omitted from the officer’s report on which planning committee members had based their decision.
The judge said, ‘Planning issues are often controversial, all those affected by them deserve to be reassured that the officers’ reports that inform councillors’ decisions are sufficient to identify how any particular proposal is affected by specific statutory obligations … and by material policies’.
These reports, he said, ‘must meet some basic standards of good public administration’ and ‘basic level of coherence’. But, in a damning assessment, the judge said the West Dorset planning officer’s report did not meet the ‘bare minimum standard’. He likened it to a ‘jigsaw puzzle’ without a picture ‘on the front of the box.’
Further, the Council officer had made assumptions and speculations about the mitigation of any harmful impact of the Vearse Farm development which the judge regarded to be ‘optimistic’, ‘not realistic’, and which could not possibly be determined until later in the detailed planning process.
This, he stated, was ‘an incorrect approach.’
The report was, however, found to be ‘sufficient’ in terms of the remaining two grounds of the case which referred to failure to take into account other relevant aspects of the National Planning Policy Framework.
Stephanie Hill from ADVEARSE’s legal team said, ‘It is frustrating for our clients to have demonstrated that the Council’s decision-making was legally flawed, but still to have lost the challenge. The impact of the development will have to be given more detailed consideration as the planning application progresses, and this judgment emphasises the importance of good quality, reasoned decision-making throughout that process.’
ADVEARSE Chairman Barry Bates said, ‘After fighting tooth and nail we have been let down at every stage of the planning process. The JR was a last-ditch attempt to stop, or at best delay, this development. We are bitterly disappointed but accept that the courts are limited to looking at the legality of the process rather than the political or moral rights or wrongs of the case.’ ‘However,’ he said, ‘the old West Dorset planning authority came out of the affair badly and we hope that lessons have been learned, particularly now that we have a different council and are living in a different global and economic context.’
Bridport town councillor and ADVEARSE member Sarah Carney said, ‘There needs to be a review of national planning policy which forces rural councils to meet metro-centric housing targets which fail to deliver for local people and deliberately encourage private developers to build thousands of
unsuitable, unsustainable and unaffordable houses all over our countryside.’
ADVEARSE member and former district councillor David Tett, said ‘Vearse Farm houses will not be affordable to local families or keyworkers. They will, however, attract retirees from the big cities and second-home owners, resulting in more traffic and unbearable pressure on our already desperately over-stretched health and social care services.’
ADVEARSE spokesman Lewis Gerolemou said, however, that ‘Vearse Farm is far from done and dusted. It remains our view and that of our supporters that there are serious problems with the plans which will need to be addressed before any houses are built. The developers can rest assured that they will face intense scrutiny and challenge at the detailed planning stages and at any point should they fail to deliver what has been promised in the S106 agreement.’
The Chairman of Dorset CPRE Peter Bowyer said, ‘This outcome is very disappointing. It is clear that the planning authority in Dorset has little respect for the designation of the AONB. Dorset deserves to have a better planning service for the area. The fundamental questions of the right
numbers of houses, the right places and the right tenures are not being addressed within the current planning system. Alternative community-driven approaches are necessary in order to ensure that the incremental urbanisation of Dorset is not allowed to proceed.’
‘We now need the Dorset AONB to be upgraded to a National park. This would have the responsibility and resources to conserve and embrace our wonderful landscapes while also having the duty to respond proactively to local housing needs and so develop the local housing that local people need.’
ADVEARSE Treasurer, Phil Summerton, said, ‘We would like to thank our wonderful lawyers, Leigh Day, Landmark Chambers and our barrister Matthew Henderson for all their help and support. A big thanks also to the Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) who donated £10,000 to the cause, and tremendous thanks to the hundreds of people who have supported us over the past six years and who contributed towards the £34,000 that made it possible for the judicial review to go ahead’.

Further information
The full written judgment can be found here:
https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2020/807.html
Information about ADVEARSE can be found at: http://www.advearse.org.uk/about-advearse/
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ADVEARSE/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/advearse
Crowdfunder: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-west-dorset-aonb
Vearse Farm development planning application: WD/D/17/000986
https://planning.dorset.gov.uk/onlineapplications/
applicationDetails.do?keyVal=DCAPR_132168&activeTab=summary

Neighbourhood plan

The vote on the Neighbourhood plan is on 27 February and is an opportunity to have a say on the future of Bridport. Below is the text of an email from the Bridport Town Clerk giving some information that will be helpful. Please feel free to share this information.

Early feedback from coverage of the Neighbourhood Plan referendum suggests that a lot of people are engaged (which is great!) but may not be able for a number of reasons to absorb the entire 106-page document.

In response, David has produced a summary guide to the Plan, and a narrated video summary.  Both are available from the main NP page at https://www.bridport-tc.gov.uk/projects/neighbourhood-plan/.

Hard copies of the summary guide are available from the Town Council on request, although naturally we’d encourage people not to ask unless they are unable to access the website version.

Many thanks to David for reacting so quickly to the significant number of requests for these summaries.

Please share this information via your own networks.  I have shared the summaries on the ‘Bridport Banter’ and ‘Bridport Notice’ Facebook pages, with a combined following of almost 24,000 people.

I’m sure also you’ll be aware by now that both poll cards and the NP leaflet are dropping through letter boxes this week.  The Bridport News also produced a helpful two-page spread last week, which is reproduced online at https://www.bridportnews.co.uk/news/18216834.important-points-know-neighbourhood-plan-ahead-referendum/.

Newsflash – Full JR hearing date announced

We now have a date for the full JR hearing. It will be on 28 January 2020 and is expected to last 1 day.
Location is Cardiff Civil Justice Centre, 2 Park Street, Cardiff CF10 1ET.

It is most likely that the judge will give the judgement in writing a few days later.

All the lawyers involved representing Advearse, council and developer will make written submissions and present oral arguments on the day. A delegation from Advearse will be attending to observe proceedings.


If anyone is interested in also attending please let us know so we can coordinate arrangements. A good turn out from local people will help to demonstrate the support for our case although the judge is of course impartial and will judge the outcome only on the legal arguments.

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.

https://www.bridportnews.co.uk/news/17953905.advearse-granted-judicial-review-dorset-councils-approval-vearse-farm-development/

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


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.