Legal Challenge Ends
LEGAL CHALLENGE ENDS
It is with considerable disappointment and regret that the Steering Group has concluded that it should no longer pursue the legal challenge over the decision of ECC to grant permission for the Football Club Development.
In response to the application to the Administrative Court for permission to seek Judicial Review, the Judge dismissed the idea that the political view expressed by the Minister should be required to be drawn to the attention of the Planning Committee. The Judge took the view that the benefits to the Football Club and the likely increase in student numbers were grounds for departing from the Neighbourhood Plan.
The application for a Protective Costs Order has also been turned down on the grounds that the matter is not considered of national importance, a decision which is difficult to understand as the Forum considered our action to be a test case regarding the weight that should be given to neighbourhood plans throughout the country. However, despite this, although we have been made liable for the City Council's costs, it has been deemed inappropriate that we should be liable for the costs incurred by solicitors acting for Yelverton and the Football Club. The costs we ourselves have incurred have been minimal as all legal advice has been pro bono, for which we are immensely grateful to Gavin Collett of Magadalen Chambers.
The Forum is consequently liable for costs of £4000. As a community organisation with no assets we must raise this sum through donations and, if necessary, fund raising events.
It would be very easy to become overwhelmingly disheartened by this result but we can hold our heads up knowing that we have done what we felt to be right and just, in the defence of our Neighbourhood Plan and the commitment and hard work of so many over more than 5 years, to ensure a balanced community in St James and a neighbourhood that is recognised as a good place to live and work.
As it is clear that the rhetoric from the Ministers at DCLG about neighbourhood planning does not stand up when it comes to the test, the Steering Group will be seeking a meeting with the Minister to discuss our situation and suggest that if there is parliamentary commitment to Localism, then something must be done to ensure neighbourhood plans really do have teeth.
The SG wishes to thank so many of you for your endorsement of our action in seeking judicial review and your support along the way. We shall continue to do all we can on your behalf despite this undeniable setback.
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