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.’

Crowdfunder Appeal launched

On 6 May we launched our Crowdfunder online fundraising appeal.  We have just a few short weeks to raise the remaining £16,000 in order to apply for a judicial review against the outline planning permission for Vearse Farm.  For this we desperately and urgently need your help. Please find below the Crowdfunder link:

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

It is vital that we get off to a good start on the Crowdfunder so please pledge what you can and also please send the Crowdfunder link to all your family, friends, colleagues etc so that they can also assist by making pledges.  Messages of support on Crowdfunder would also be great.

The aim of the Crowdfunder is for all concerned people (not just local people) to make pledges towards the remaining £16,000 that we need to raise. These pledges will only be collected if the target is reached.

Our lawyers are currently undertaking all the pre-work in preparation for applying for the judicial review, the deadline for which is on 13 June 2019.  However, we cannot proceed with the application if we have not raised the money we need to pay for it.

People always like to be on a winning team and if it is clear on our Crowdfunder campaign that we are on track to meet our target it can only help to encourage other people to also make pledges. We are doing everything we can to publicise the campaign in local and national media and also approaching sympathetic organisations to see what support they can offer. 

Please keep your eye on the Crowdfunder site to see how we are progressing!

 Thanks so much for your continuing support, donations and pledges. If you prefer to make a direct donation to Advearse instead of making a pledge on Crowdfunder then details for this are on the other side of this sheet.

DECISION NOTICE ISSUED!

D Day had arrived. The Decision Notice was issued by Dorset Council yesterday (2 May). This means we now have 6 weeks to raise the remaining £16,000 in order to fund our Judicial Review case.

Our lawyers are sending the Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) letter to Dorset Council and the developer to announce our challenge against the legality of the development. If we fail to raise the funds required then we will not be able to go ahead with the Judicial Review. The Council and the Developer will have won by default and be able to go ahead with the massive and destructive Vearse Farm urban extension.

We will be shortly launching our Crowdfunder Campaign with the aim of reaching a much broader range of concerned people. We will also be contacting the local and national press.

In the meantime donations can continue to be made as noted in our “How to donate page”.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT – WE AND BRIDPORT NOW NEED IT MORE THAN EVER!

CPRE Support for Advearse

To understand more about the CPRE support for Advearse against the massive and destruction Vearse Farm development we urge everyone to refer to the CPRE website (https://www.cpre.org.uk/) and its recent publications.

The CPRE give a devastating critique of flawed targets and the failings of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Across the country and indeed across the political divide it is now understood that massive market led housing schemes like Vearse Farm will not address the priority housing needs. A return to local authority housing and smaller scale schemes by Community Land Trusts should be encouraged in areas where there is the greatest need.
Vearse Farm is typical of developments of the last 30 years which encircle many towns but have been largely taken up by incoming retirees and second homers. They do little for those local people in housing need who cannot afford the inflated house prices.

ADVEARSE continues to support housing development at a sustainable level in West Dorset which are in sympathy with the character of the area and provide genuine affordable housing for local people.

Why not use Brownfield sites?

The Council’s brownfield site register shows the scale of available brownfield land that could be used to build genuinely affordable houses, but instead is being ignored in favour of greenfield sites eg the massive Vearse Farm urban extension.

Below is the list of sites and the houses that could be built to ensure Bridport’s housing need and not developer greed is met!

Interestingly the Council own the Flood Lane site and have sold it to McCarthy & Stone to build 42 high-quality Retirement Living apartments. Genuinely affordable houses for the young people of Bridport clearly are a low priority to the Council!


SiteHouses
Rope Walks car park, Bridport 20
Depot, Church Street 6
St Swithins Road, Bridport 20
Former Proton Garage and Works 10
Bradfords Builders Merchants 34
Coach Station Square, Bridport 50
Flood Lane, Bridport 30
Land off Pymore Road, Bridport 8
Total178

Why CPRE support the Advearse Campaign

Our countryside is being destroyed by the scale and type of building development that is taking place.

The government has set a target of building 300,000 houses per year.  The formula it devised to determine housing need across the country, however, has recently been found to include major errors in its statistical projections, which means the government’s figures for housing need are grossly inflated.  Housing need is now being estimated at nearly 50% below the government annual target.

Local authorities have no say in the number of houses they are required to plan to build.  They are bribed or penalised by central government over funding and meeting house-building targets; and they are also blackmailed by developers into granting planning consent to avoid the expense of government-policy-endorsed legal action against them if they try to refuse.  That’s why CPRE are calling the National Planning Policy Framework a speculative developers’ charter.

So rather than delivering what communities want, local government and local democracy effectively does not exist when it comes to planning permission in this country – this is why your voice and all your objections to Vearse Farm have been ignored by the council.

This situation is made worse here in West Dorset because the original, adopted Local Plan had a target of just under 16,000 houses based on the flawed national government formula, but the Local Plan Review has increased this figure to just over 19,000.  So if the government formula is wrong by 50%, then the number of houses planned for West Dorset is grossly excessive by a staggering 78%. 

Not only that, but the national targets are higher in areas such as Dorset where affordability is a problem, but the formula does not take into account the fact that the kind of growth it promotes may be applicable to urban areas and big cities, but is not appropriate for a small market town in a rural area, like Bridport.

Adding insult to injury, the West Dorset Local Plan Review admits that its house-building target is an oversupply that significantly exceeds what is purported to be the ‘objectively assessed need’ – while at the same time stating that ‘the total projected need for affordable housing is not expected to be met in the plan review period’.  This is because the houses planned to be built will in the main be luxury, unaffordable housing designed to make huge profits for developers but nothing to help local Dorset people. 

Now if you’re thinking this isn’t so bad because laws of supply and demand mean an oversupply of houses will bring prices down – think again.  The only people likely to be able to afford these houses are retirees from the big cities or second-home owners.  Such people are able and prepared to pay a premium for the houses, which will, in fact push prices up in the area.  So the 35% of so-called affordable houses pledged but not guaranteed to be built on developments like Vearse Farm, will be available for 80% of a cost vastly inflated by the model itself. 

So the entire planning policy is flawed, and biased completely towards profits for the developers while doing nothing to help house local people and families in need of low-cost and social housing.

West Dorset District Council has also failed to provide any kind of brownfield first policy.  In order to build on AONB land, the council and the developers have to prove that there are exceptional circumstances and that it is in the public interest for the AONB status – which should afford the highest possible protections – to be overruled.  The fact that this development will not help local people get the houses they need and can afford, shows that there are no exceptional circumstances to justify disregarding the law on this and concreting over our countryside.

Part of the reason the CPRE has granted ADVEARSE match-funding of up to £10,000 towards a judicial review against Vearse Farm is that it will be the biggest development ever to have been built on AONB land.  This is therefore a problem much bigger than Bridport alone, because if it is allowed to go ahead without challenge it will set a dangerous precedent allowing planning authorities to build anywhere on green belt and AONB land – and it will effectively destroy the protections of the AONB designation all over the country. 

Should ADVEARSE be successful, however, it will set a helpful legal precedent that can be applied across the whole of the planning process for West Dorset, regardless of existing Local Plan allocations, and one which will help to sustain and support AONB protections elsewhere in the country. 

Please give your support to this campaign, as CPRE has done.

ADVEARSE PUBLIC MEETING

Thanks to the 50 local residents who packed the WI Hall in Bridport last Thursday (24th April) to discuss the latest situation regarding the Vearse Farm urban extension. The public meeting was hosted by Advearse the campaign group.

The guest speaker was Mr Richard Nicholls, Deputy Chair of West Dorset CPRE, who set out the vital importance of opposing this massive and destructive development in order to protect AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) land both in Bridport, but also across the whole of England.

With council plans to add another 170 houses to the Vearse Farm development it will, with 930 houses, be double the size of the previous largest build on AONB land. This would set a precedent that would make AONB land an easy target for developers.  

The audience were shocked to hear about the large number of brownfield sites available in Briport and the whole of Dorset that were being ignored by the local Council in favour of large scale green field developments fuelling easy profits for developers and house builders.

Sarah Carney made a strong plea for the young people of Bridport, in particular, who were being let down by this focus on satisfying developer greed and not housing need. The number of second homes in the Bridport area has been assessed as far higher than reported by the Council. These second homes remain empty for a large part of the year whilst young local people have no chance of affording even the Government’s “so called” affordable homes.

All of these failings result in the wrong houses being built in the wrong places for the wrong people.

Lewis Gerolemou detailed the many objections raised by local people including the massive increase in traffic congestion, lack of car parking, pressure on an already stretched medical centre and impact on wildlife and landscape.

Donations of over £500 resulted from the meeting in support of the Judicial Review challenge against the Vearse Farm urban extension. With CPRE support a total of £17,200 has been raised to date towards the £34,000 needed for the JR.

Barry Bates closed the meeting by calling upon all concerned people in Bridport and elsewhere to join us in our fight against a totally destructive, unnecessary and misguided development.

Fundraising Update – 25 April 2019

Thanks to the generosity of the people of Bridport the Judicial Review fundraising to challenge the Vearse Farm Outline Planning Permission reached £8,500. 136 people have donated with an average donation of over £60. We have had 32 donations of over £100 and 69 of over £50. Many local people have also promised to donate.

With the CPRE match funding support the total is doubled to £17,000! The CPRE matched funding is up to a maximum of £10,000 which means to reach the fundraising target of £34,000 we need to collect a further £15,500 in donations.

Once the Council issue the Decision notice we will only have 6 weeks to launch the Judicial Review. After that nothing can be done to prevent this massive urban extension from going ahead. So please donate and encourage your friends and neighbours to support the campaign.

Thank You!

Video of Vearse Farm

We have made a short video setting out the case against the against the unnecessary and massively destructive urbanisation of Bridport resulting from the Vearse Farm planning application.

Please share with friends and family so we can obtain the maximum support and donations to fund the Judicial Review against the planning application.

Save Bridport


Bridport News Article 14 March 2019

CAMPAIGNERS are set to challenge a decision to approve planning permission for more than 700 homes near Bridport.

Residents have donated more than £5,000 towards the cost of a judicial review into West Dorset District Council’s decision to grant outline planning permission for the Vearse Farm development.

This amount will be doubled thanks to a match-funding grant from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Dorset.

Chairman of campaign group Advearse, Barry Bates, said: “We are overwhelmed and humbled by Bridport’s generosity. We’re frequently given cheques for £100 and more and most donations are over £50.”

Advearse says its lawyers believe the planning consent can be challenged because, they allege, it contravenes national rules about building on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and should be given ‘the highest possible protection’ from development.

A review will cost around £34,000 and, thanks to donations and match-funding, Advearse has £19,000 left to raise.

Mr Bates added: “The response to our leaflet drop has given us a renewed sense of responsibility. Bridport has shown that it is clearly united against this development which, despite its gross scale, will not deliver truly-affordable homes for local people and we will do our utmost to represent them.”

Advearse says it continues to receive a steady stream of donations and will launch an online appeal through the Bridport-based Crowdfunder website once a final decision notice has been issued by the council – but this will only give them a few weeks to make up any funding shortfall in order to make review application.

The group says it will continue to raise awareness of what it says are the ‘negative ramifications’ of the development and will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, April 24, at 7pm at the WI Hall on North Street, Bridport.

Members will update residents on the current situation concerning the application for the development. All are welcome to attend. For more information, contact [email protected]

The Bridport and Lyme Regis News has contacted West Dorset District Council to request a comment.

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