Category Archives: Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE

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 (http://dorset-cpre.org.uk/resources/item/2216-dorset-review-autumn-2018), 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.

PRESS RELEASE – Dorset Council procrastinate over judicial review legal deadline

Dorset Council have asked to defer the deadline to respond to a lawyer’s letter setting out ADVEARSE’s proposed claim for a judicial review against the outline planning permission for the Vearse Farm development.  Officially, a response should be expected within 14 days of receipt of the pre-action protocol letter sent by Leigh Day Solicitors. 

The official decision notice granting outline planning permission to Hallam Land Management was issued on election day, Thursday 2 May.  ADVEARSE has just six weeks from this date (deadline 13 June) to apply for the judicial review.  In accordance with legal requirements, Leigh Day sent the pre-action letter, addressed to the council’s legal department, on 8 May.  Dorset Council says the letter was received on 9 May but that it took a further four days for it to reach the legal department through internal mail.  In their interim reply the council has said it cannot make the deadline of 23 May and has asked for a further extension to 6 June, four weeks after the letter was received.  It says it needs the time to prepare a response, despite reporting in Local Government Lawyer on 21 March 2019 that it was aware of ADVEARSE’s intentions.

ADVEARSE Chairman Barry Bates says ‘The decision notice was issued on the afternoon before a bank holiday weekend and before the new council had a chance to be elected.  Luckily, we and our lawyers have been on standby awaiting the decision notice for almost 18 months since the planning committee made its initial decision to allow the development to go ahead.’ 

While the council’s delays will not affect the time limit for the judicial review application, its failure to meet the 14-day deadline may be taken into account by the court and costs sanctions imposed.  Leigh Day is asking for a compromise deadline of 27 May. 

In the meantime, ADVEARSE has, after initial legal and other costs, just over £12,000 left to raise of its £34,000 target money.  It must raise this money before 13 June or the legal action cannot be actioned and the Vearse Farm development cannot be stopped. 

ADVEARSE Treasurer Phil Summerton says ‘People wouldn’t object if this was a smaller-scale development of genuinely low-cost housing for local people.  But this is set to be a luxury estate for second-home owners and will bring in retirees on a massive scale.  This goes against national protections for AONB land, but local democracy has let us down and now the only recourse appears to be to the law.  This is our very last chance to stop the Vearse Farm development.’

Bridport residents have rallied round contributing direct donations of £10,000 and these have been matched by a donation of £10,000 from Dorset CPRE.  A further £3,560 has been raised through the Bridport-based Crowdfunder website: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-west-dorset-aonb.

Support is now being sought from further afield in recognition that Vearse Farm, the biggest development ever to be allowed on AONB land, will set a dangerous precedent for urban sprawl all over the UK countryside.

<ENDS>

Further information

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

ADVEARSE proceeds towards a judicial review against Dorset Council


ADVEARSE has today initiated pre-action legal protocols and launched a Crowdfunder appeal to raise funds to apply for a judicial review (JR) against Dorset Council’s outline planning permission for the Vearse Farm development (see: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-west-dorset-aonb for further information).  Almost 18 months after West Dorset Council (now Dorset Council) members ‘reluctantly’ granted outline planning permission to Hallam Land Management (3 November 2017), the official decision notice allowing the building of 760+ houses on AONB-designated land was issued on Thursday 2 May just before the bank holiday weekend.  ADVEARSE now has just six weeks to raise the remaining £16,000 it needs to challenge the council’s decision in court.

ADVEARSE’s lawyers worked over the weekend and have written to Dorset Council to outline the challenge and ask questions about the legality of the planning application.

The people of Bridport have already donated an incredibly generous £8,800 towards the JR so far. Thanks to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) match funding (up to a maximum of £10,000), and taking into account pre-JR legal costs, a further £16,000 in donations is needed to reach the £34,000 target required to proceed with legal action.  ADVEARSE launched its online Crowdfunder fundraising campaign on Monday 6 May with the aim of reaching a much broader range of concerned people.

Because Vearse Farm is the biggest development ever to be allowed on AONB land, the JR will have important implications for the protection of the countryside all over the UK.

Barry Bates, Chairman of ADVEARSE, says: ‘Local people are angry because their concerns about traffic and the strain on our infrastructure and medical and care services have been ignored by the council; and because despite the gross oversupply of expensive houses the council plans to build all over the West Dorset countryside, it admits it will still fail to provide the affordable housing needed by local families.’

Stop press; Vearse Farm meeting

14th February 2019

We plan to hold a public meeting to update you on the latest developments on the Vearse Farm planning application on Wednesday 24th April at the WI Hall, North Street, Bridport,  DT6 3JH at 7.00. pm. Please check the local press, our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ADVEARSE/), or follow us on Twitter (@advearse), for further details.

If you have any concerns at all about the implications for you and the local area then please read the leaflet and join our campaign.

Local Plan revision; press release

Disappointment but not surprise was the reaction of ADVEARSE members to the updated West Dorset Local Plan. Details of the latest proposals can be found on the Dorset for you website…..

https://moderngovdcp.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=962&x=1

The Plan which is due to go out for consultation later this year has identified 3 sites for additional housing in Bridport including a site off Jessop Avenue. We would urge everyone to respond to the consultation being held between August and October of this year.

One of these is land adjoining Vearse Farm and if this plan is adopted the numbers of housing on Vearse Farm will increase from 760 to 930. Phrases like ‘mini Poundbury’ spring to mind.  A spokesman for the group commented ‘we warned from the start this was the thin end of the wedge. All our arguments against Vearse Farm –increased threat of flooding, problems of access, danger to pedestrians, pressure on parking in town will amplified by this proposal. One of the most ironic statements in new document is one that states that’ by 2036 the District Council will have protected the surrounding area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and flood plain’!

Although the outline planning permission for proposed development at Vearse Farm was approved by the Planning Committee in November 2017 the S106 funding agreements are not yet in place. ADVEARSE believes that there are strong grounds for challenging the decision. The spokesman added ‘We hope that people will now see the potential impact of this massive development and realise it is essential to stop the first phase of Vearse Farm. ADVEARSE are preparing the next stage in the campaign and will be looking for community support. We are fighting to preserve the character of our wonderful market town and believe that sites for the necessary affordable housing can be found without the need for a massive development.

ADVEARSE are delighted by CPRE’s objection and precedent…..

ADVEARSE has welcomed the Supreme Court decision on 6 December 2017 which has refused permission to developers to build over 500 houses in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Kent. The case, brought by the Kent branch of CPRE (Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England) against Dover District Council, reiterates the basic principle that major developments should not be approved in AONBs unless exceptional circumstances exist and have been stipulated.

A spokesman for ADVEARSE commented – ‘There are many similarities in this case to the proposed development at Vearse Farm. We continue to argue that there is no justification for such a large development so close to the wonderful Jurassic Coast’.

ADVEARSE is in contact with other parties who are studying the Supreme Court judgment to identify its wider implications. The spokesman continued – ‘This has given a great boost to our campaign against Vearse Farm. Details of the latest steps of our campaign can be found on our website, through which we may also be contacted by the many people who since the granting of Outline Planning permission by WDDC have asked how they can help to stop the scheme.’

For further information contact Barry Bates – [email protected] 01308 425519.”

Press release; Bridport News 26-10-2017

Important Notice from ADVEARSE
West Dorset District Council will consider the Planning Application for

VEARSE FARM

On Friday November 3rd at South Walks House, Dorchester at 10am

Details can be found at www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk WD/D/17/000986
Local people should show The Development Control Committee (Planning) how strongly they feel about this application. We urge you to attend on Friday November 3rd. We wish to encourage members of the public to address the Planning Committee to express their views at the meeting. Contact Linda Quinton (details at bottom of page)

More than 200 people have sent comments to WDDC about this application, the overwhelming majority have objected to it.
We at ADVEARSE have opposed this development since 2013 for many reasons, including: –
• Increased traffic congestion in Bridport
• Serious risk of flooding despite prevention measures
• Heightened dangers to pedestrians and cyclists on West Allington/
B3162 and the Magdalen Lane link
• Insufficient patient capacity at Medical Centre
• Loss of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
• Poor proposed links discriminate against disabled persons
• No guarantees that low cost housing will be built
• No provision for additional car parking in Bridport Town centre
• Loss of wildlife
• Destruction of established hedgerows and trees
• Damage to archaeological assets
• Damage to the setting of Vearse Farmhouse, an important Heritage
Grade ll listed asset

WDDC has valid grounds for refusing this application unless the developer can address the problems we have identified here

X51 bus leaves Bridport Bus Station at 9.07 and arrives close to WDDC South Walks House at about 9.48

Contact Linda Quinton at WDDC 01305 252211 or [email protected]

Reply to Ian Johnson’s “Bridport News” letter…….

(Please note, this is NOT Ian Johnson who owns West Road garage, West Allington. Amended 29/6/2017)

I wish to object to Mr Ian Johnson’s letter entitled Too Selfish. Firstly, I presume he did not attend the recent Town council (13/6/2017) meeting to which he refers, but justifies his sentiments by his perusing of the photos printed in the Bridport News. I found his comments unpalatably ageist ! He and the youth of Bridport have had their chance to comment on this development at that meeting, but for some reason they chose not to. Furthermore, if he had attended the discourse, he would have heard that mature residents are very much in favour of providing low cost housing, in fact low-cost being the ONLY caveat as to not totally objecting to any new builds ! Note, I do not refer to low-cost as affordable as affordable dwellings (at 80% of the market price) are still outside the range of most of our young and destitute residents. Mature retirees having zero or very little remaining mortgage have achieved their aspirational goal of completion of their loan, some years later. I for one struggled to pay my mortgage at very high interest rates (15% in the early 1980’s) and the concomitant high income taxation.
I do admit that it is now prohibitive for the young and destitute folk to get a foot on the housing ladder but this is due to government policy not the legacy working people of the past. House prices in this country (particularly in London, the feeder venue for Bridport purchasers) have escalated NOW due to the inept monitoring by HMRC who have failed to address and omit the generation of legislation to combat the presence non-dom house purchasers, many of whom never occupy, but just await the expected price increase, then sell and avoid payment of CGT !
Furthermore, is Mr. Johnson aware that SHMA housing figures are inflated to the extent of 30% (figures from the Office of National Statistics and Campaign for the Protection of Rural England).
The building of more open market housing in our locale, will not fix the current [national] housing crisis !
What is very obvious is that Mr Johnson is rather deluded regarding his bizarre objections; he cites and states dog walking and spoiling [desecration] of the countryside. However, it is the more significant argument against the proposed traffic access, pedestrian & cyclist safety and the perceived flooding issue(s),that are the key objections.
The argument therefore should be holistic not iterating mono or dual specifics, as there are several pertinent issues in this complex, local housing situation.
There is a very apathetic attitude conveyed by Bridportians, across the whole demographic that is tangibly exemplified by those, supporting the development of Vearse Farm NOT convening meetings to express that view, en masse. It is a sad indictment that younger residents do not publically express their views, at the aforementioned meetings, than that only on social media.
So Mr Johnson, if you wish to support Vearse Farm development, may I suggest you undertake some reading and research as many of us have over the past 4 years, in our campaign group, ADVEARSE and then have your say at the council meetings and not denigrate campaigners, who truly care about the future of our town, in the local press.

Richard Freer

Magna Housing decision to Sell Social Housing in West Dorset

Bridport Area Neighbourhood Plan Housing Group – Response to Magna Housing decision to Sell Social Housing in West Dorset

 

Cllr Ros Kayes’ dismay that Magna Housing intend to sell social rented homes is understandable. Whatever Magna’s reasons, this news is difficult to reconcile with the fact that 283 households (about 1 in every 30 in the Bridport area) are on the Housing Register as being homeless or “unsuitably accommodated”. These residents are unlikely ever to be able to buy a home, they struggle to meet private rental costs, endure overcrowding and often share with others. We must all find this unacceptable.

Consequently the Bridport Area Neighbourhood Plan Housing Group strongly supports the need for more social rented housing. They have identified an across-the-board need for lower-cost open market housing at prices more in reach of locals, in preference to housing built predominantly to serve affluent second-home owners and retirees from outside the area. ‘Social rent’ for a three bedroomed home will, Magna advises, cost around £105 per week. That is affordable by local standards.

Around 1,000 new homes are currently planned for Bridport of which 250 should be a mixture of ‘social rented’ and ‘affordable rented’. However ‘Affordable’ rent is specified by the government as being up to 80% of private rent, equating to at least £150 per week for a three bedroomed ‘affordable’ home. Nationally accepted criteria show that over half the households in Bridport simply cannot afford this. It is misleading to say that rents priced at 80% of private market rents are ‘affordable’ here.

Housing Associations prefer to provide ‘affordable rented’ homes – they get a much better return on their investment and since the government does not subsidise social housing the chance of many ‘social rented’ homes being built in Bridport is slim.

Spokesmen of both local and central government keep reassuring us that ‘affordable’ housing is on its way. Yes, more housing may be on its way but affordable it isn’t, at least not to those in housing need. It is of concern that the District Council simply does not know how many new social rented properties are to be built in Bridport, having no power to dictate the number.

The sad fact is that the District Council’s 2015 Local Plan is not going to help those desperate people on the Housing Register and those suffering housing poverty. The people of Bridport need to understand this.

Roy Mathisen

Bridport