No review for Ridgeway Farm development
10:00pm Sunday 6th January 2013 in By David Wiles
A JUDICIAL review will not take place over the Government’s decision to approve the 700-home Ridgeway Farm development.
In November, despite opposition by both Swindon and Wiltshire Councils, communities secretary Eric Pickles approved Taylor Wimpey’s outline application in line with the recommendation from planning inspector, Katie Peerless.
Swindon Council investigated the possibility of a judicial review, but found it could not take the action as the development is within the boundaries of Wiltshire Council, which has decided not to pursue a review.
Coun Dale Heenan, Swindon Council cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “The Ridgeway Farm planning application was submitted in 2010 before many changes to the planning system like the Localism Act were brought in by this Government.
“The crux of the argument is over whether the 2006 Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) housing figures apply or whether Wiltshire Council’s and Swindon Council’s new local plans which have a 20 per cent reduction apply.
“It is clear from the appeal decision that Wiltshire Council had one hand tied behind their back when the Inspector recommended to the minister that the 2006 housing figures were used. I still think that's a poor decision, but legally changes like the Localism Act can't be applied retrospectively so any grounds for a judicial review are weak.
“Swindon Borough Council can't challenge the decision because Wiltshire Council was the local planning authority who received this planning application. “The only winners if Wiltshire pursued further would be the expensive lawyers."
Coun Toby Sturgis, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for waste, property, environment and development control services, agreed, saying: “We don’t believe there’s reasonable grounds for a challenge.”
Kevin Fisher, chairman of Shaw Residents’ Association, said: “I would have liked them to have taken it to court but not being legal experts we don’t know whether that would win.
He added that the group would now lobby for the Government to fund the Purton-Iffley Relief Road to mitigate highways issues associated with the development.
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