Holme Fell - Judicial Review
Residents will be aware that an application for 93 dwellings at Holme Fell was approved subject to a S106 Legal Agreement.
The Officer's report (click here)
clearly states that aspects of the application were contrary to Planning Policy - but as the application provided affordable bungalows and as it was the only rural site with HCA funding for affordable homes, the City Council approved it. The S106 was signed on the 14th Sept 2018 - and the final course of action to challenge the decision / S106 is through a Judicial Review.
A Judicial Review considers whether the decision was lawfully correct. e.g were the City Council right to give more weight to the affordable homes rather than the conflict with Policy, is the affordable proportion correct for a rural exception site, was the HCA grant a valid planning consideration etc. General planning matters such as traffic, drainage, impact of the development etc, may be investigated as secondary items, but there needs to be a strong legal argument to initially contest the decision.
Whittingham Parish Council instructed Solicitors to investigate the Committee decision and once the S106 was signed, the Solicitors felt there were sufficient grounds to refer the case to a Barrister. The Barrister agreed there were legal issues with the decision and the legal arguments were presented to the City Council. The City Council replied by stating they were prepared to the contest the case in court.
Further discussions with the Solicitor established that the Parish Council could not submit the Judicial Review in its own name because if the case was unsuccessful, the fees and costs would NOT be capped and the Parish Council does not have the resources or legal powers to raise funds in order to proceed.
However, if the Judicial Review is submitted by a Group, the costs could be capped under the Aarhus Convention. Consequently, Goosnargh Residents Action Group called a public meeting on the 18th Oct to establish if a Judicial Review would be financially supported by residents.
At an extra-ordinary meeting on the 19th Oct the Parish Council resolved to provide administration and financial support to enable the Group to proceed to the Permission Stage - subject to the Parish Clerk checking the costs and legal procedures.
The Parish Clerk established that if the Permission Stage is successful, the case will proceed to a Substantive Hearing (final decision) where the costs will increase significantly. Furthermore, if the Parish Council financially supports the Group, their claim under the Aarhus Convention may be affected and any costs incurred may not be capped.
In light of the above, the Parish Council reluctantly withdrew from the legal process so that it could be taken forward by members of Goosnargh Residents Action Group.
It is understood that the Group are still going through the legal processes and they will provide a further update after the Judicial Review deadline of the 26th Oct.