Legal challenge against UDP lodged in High Court by Dinedor Hill Action Association Ltd


The Dinedor Hill Action Association Ltd yesterday, 14 May 2007, lodged a legal challenge in the High Court under Section 287 of the Town and Country Planning Act, against the allocation of land for housing at Bullinghope in the Herefordshire Council Unitary Development Plan. This challenge has been made because we believe that the Council has manipulated the democratic UDP process to allocate land at Bullinghope for housing with the sole purpose of using money from the developer to pay for the Rotherwas Access Road. In doing so, the Council has:
• ignored the findings of the UDP public enquiry
• not given adequate consideration of the impact of development in this location
• prejudiced a proper countywide strategic assessment of the location of future housing
• proceeded with construction of the Rotherwas Access Road without sufficient funding in place and will therefore be unable to properly and impartially consider a planning application on the site because it has a direct financial interest in granting approval. The Dinedor Hill Action Association has given careful consideration, and taken detailed legal advice, before proceeding with this action. The Grounds for legal challenge selected by DHAA barrister is that the Council have not proved need for extra housing and, if such need were proved, have not given grounds for selecting Bullinghope over all the other proposed UDP housing sites that were rejected.

Speaking today, the Chair of the Dinedor Hill Action Association David Millar said ”It is with regret that we feel it necessary to take this very serious action.  However, we believe that proper democratic processes have been overridden by the Council, and that a legal challenge to the UDP is the only avenue remaining to ensure proper consideration of this allocation of housing”. For further information contact: David Miller (chair of Dinedor Hill Action Association Ltd) on 01432 273995  or press office: press@dinedorhillaction.co.uk or visit www.dinedorhillaction.co.uk

Click on 'Read more' for background information.

Background Information
The development and adoption of the UDP is a detailed and lengthy process, during which assessment of potential sites for different uses, including future housing should be undertaken. It was only at a very late stage in the UDP process, and after the Government turned down funding for the Access Road which describing it as ‘poor value for money’, that, the Council without due process and proper consideration of its impact, allocated land for housing  at Bullinghope. The Council stated clearly in UDP literature that the allocation was proposed with the sole purpose of gaining money to pay for the road.
As part of the UDP process, a full public enquiry is held by a planning inspector. The inspector expressed concern about the hasty selection of Bullinghope saying that:
“Bullinghope should not be regarded as an automatic strategic location for future growth” (para 5.14.15); and also that “allocation of 300 houses at Bullinghope would be premature and would prejudice open discussion of alternatives for the city”
He was explicit about his reasons for NOT allocating land at Bullinghope for housing:
“I consider that the proposed development would be a material and unjustified incursion into the open countryside surrounding Hereford. It would be significantly harmful to the rural character and appearance of the area and, in the circumstances that I have described, an unwarranted accretion to the south of the city. I have no hesitation in recommending that the proposed allocation should not be pursued under the unitary development plan.” (para 5.14.36 Inspector’s Report)
The Council ignored the inspector and voted to include the allocation of land for housing at Bullinghope.
Our detailed concerns
The Dinedor Hill Association have a number of concerns that have prompted us to take this action:
• the Council have waived the normal requirement for a developer to provide 30 to 50% of the housing as affordable for local people, in order to maximise money for the road. This principle should be challenged.
• the council failed to satisfactorily answer objections raised by individuals and organisations, including the Government Office for the West Midlands.
• following the election the new Conservative administration has announced a ‘major road and house-building programme’, and are specifically promoting the model of Bullinghope as a way for funding such road-building programmes. It is important that this model is properly tested
 
• the new local Councillor for Hollngton ward, was elected specifically on a mandate of stopping the housing at Bullinghope and the linked use of money from the developer to pay for the road. This demonstrates the strength of local concern which has been ignored to date.
 
• The Council has started building the road without having all the funding in place, and are relying on money from the housing developer to pay for it. This means that they will not be able to give proper and impartial consideration of the future planning application, because they have a financial interest in approval.
 
• the selection of land at Bullinghope was done in isolation from proper consideration of potential sites around the whole county. It is an inappropriate location for a number of reasons, including:
 
• allocation of this land will inevitably lead to further development of several thousand houses spreading out from the current southern boundary of Hereford to the line of the access road.
 
• it will greatly increase traffic on the A49, the Holme Lacy Road, and further increase congestion into Hereford City Centre
 
• it will destroy the landscape setting of Hereford City and the historic setting of Dinedor Hill for ever.

Posted: Tue - May 15, 2007 at 01:27 pm          


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