Saturday, 20 July 2019

Developer goes to court in fight over 245 homes

A DEVELOPER is refusing to give up its fight to build 245 new homes.

Gladman Homes is going to the High Court to challenge a planning inspector’s decision to support the refusal of planning permission.

The company proposed to build on three fields between Peppard Road and Kiln Road on the outskirts of Emmer Green.

The farmland, which is owned by the Phillimore Estate, is in Eye and Dunsden parish and South Oxfordshire district and not Reading borough.

Opponents, including a number of neighbouring parish councils, claimed that the development would put nearby villages at risk of being “swallowed up” so that they became a suburb of Reading.

Gladman was refused consent by South Oxfordshire District Council and the inspector Nick Palmer upheld that decision in November following a public inquiry in May.

The developer is challenging the ruling but a date for the court hearing has still to be confirmed. Leigh Rawlins, a member of Sonning Common Parish Council and the Campaign Against Gladman in Eye and Dunsden group, said he was “surprised” that the company was continuing to pursue its plans.

He said its grounds were that the inspector didn’t recognise the housing need and should have taken the Oxfordshire Growth Deal into consideration.

The deal, which all six of the county’s local authorities are preparing in return for £215 million of government investment in infrastructure and affordable housing, says Oxfordshire must take 100,000 homes by 2031.

Councillor Rawlins said it was not relevant until the district council’s new Local Plan came into force and that this was still being worked on.

He said he was unsure whether the campaign group would be represented at the High Court.

It paid for a barrister who put forward the parishes’ case at the inquiry alongside the district council. Cllr Rawlins said: “This case is against the Secretary of State and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government  — they are the respondents.

“Essentially, we would be expecting the Government to be fighting this as the lead.”

David Woodward, who chairs Eye and Dunsden Parish Council and is also a member of CAGE, said: “This is a blow so soon after we celebrated victory after the public inquiry but typical of the way speculative land promoters like Gladman operate.

“The case will be answered by the Government, with the district council and CAGE potentially both involved as interested parties.

“We’ve yet to make a decision about any further involvement by the CAGE campaign but it could be very expensive.”

Councillor Paul Harrison, who represents the Sonning Common ward and is cabinet member for development and regeneration on the district council, said: “I’m disappointed but it’s not unexpected.

“ Gladman is the type of company which fights everything legally as far as it can. As far as they are concerned, they just want to make a profit. They wouldn’t do this if they didn’t think they have a good legal case. They employ some of the best lawyers in the land.

“The High Court has no authority to grant planning permission. All it can say is ‘there’s some form of inconsistency or some form of issue with the inspector’s verdict’.”

In his decision, Mr Palmer said the development would “erode” the open setting of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and harm the visual effect of the landscape.

He also disagreed with the developer’s assertion that the district council had not secured enough land to meet the demand for housing, saying that in fact it had exceeded build targets.

Gladman originally intended to argue the district council had failed to secure enough sites to meet the next five years’ demand but the day before inquiry opened the council produced a report saying it had enough to meet the next 5.4 years’ demand.

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