CAMPAIGNERS have secured a legal review of Rochford Council’s plans to build thousands of homes afterawoman stumped up cash to pay for it.
Linda Kendall, 66, of Lubbards Close, Rayleigh, and her Cambridge-based solicitors Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law, have secured a judicial review over whether the public were properly consulted on plans to build 2,785 homes by 2025.
Ms Kendall, leader of the Rayleigh Action Group, has the backing of hundreds of people in the area and in Hullbridge, but has come up a substantial amount of money from her pension fund in order to secure the legal challenge at the High Court.
She still hopes to get financial support from other campaigners as the money needed for the legal fight has previously been touted as costing as much as £40,000.
She said: “I can’t let the matter go.
“I’m appealing for the people of Rayleigh and Hullbridge to help me. There are leaflets going out to houses across the towns already.
“If everyone put a couple of pounds in, it would be enough.”
The district council plans to build 2,785 out of a total of 4,600 homes on green field sites by 2025. A total of 550 new homes are planned for land north of London Road, Rayleigh, with a further 500 in Hullbridge.
Rochford will take 600, Hockley 50, Hawkwell 175, Ashingdon 100, Canewdon 60, Ashingdon 500 and Great Wakering 250.
Residents in Ms Kendall’s Rayleigh group, as well as those surveyed by Brian Carleton in his capacity as leader of the Hullbridge Residents’ Action Group, are concerned by potential overcrowding in the area, a lack of infrastructure improvements, and the potential for flooding.
Ms Kendall’s legal challenge is on a point of law the council failed to adequately consult the public.
She added: “It is one of the first times plans like these have been challenged like this.
“This may not even work anyway.
I just feel there are too many questions not answered.
“I shouldn’t think the council is terribly pleased with me though.”
Lisa Foster, associate solicitor for Richard Buxton, said: “We deal with this type of case on a regular basis.”
Claim is based on inadequate consultation
Linda Kendall's challenge is against the validity of the council’s allocations plan, which details the sites for development in the next 11 years.
The claim has been made on the grounds adequate public consultation, a procedural requirement, was not complied with.
Were the review to be successful in the High Court, the plan would be either wholly or partly quashed, meaning the plan would need to be reconsidered.
However, district councillor for planning, Keith Hudson, notes it was mentioned in the council’s Rochford District Matters quarterly magazine, delivered to every property in the district, as well as receiving coverage in local media and by officers speaking at public meetings.
There has been precedent for a successful similar claim as Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law won a claim against a council in Norfolk against the building of 9,000 new homes in 2012.
An anti-urbanisation campaigner successfully brought the claim and forced the High Court to make the council reconsider its plans.
For - Brian Carleton, chairman of Hullbridge Residents' Action Group
We have 98.5 per cent of the Hullbridge residents registered as against the plans, so we are now fighting it with Linda and Rayleigh.
I’ve also had messages from people in Ashingdon and Canewdon saying if they’d known such things were possible, they would have done something.
We in Hullbridge now have a volunteer committee of three surveyors, one solicitor, a housingmanager, an architect, two involved in insurance and a secretary. We are, and have been, taking this seriously.
Against - Keith Hudson, Rochford District councillor for planning
The process of consultation we went through was far and away more than is required in law in order to ensure the best possible communication with our residents over the past seven years.
I regret our residents are subjected to a further period of uncertainty which is not in the majority of people’s interest because of the potential blight to their properties.
Proposed sites on flood plains were dismissed. We are not building on flood plains and all vacant brownfield sites in the district have been allocated.