Spofforth Hill objectors set up legal fund

NAWN 1502231AM2 Spofforth Hill development protestors. David Walton, Graham Penney and Jim Walton look at paper work connected to the Spofforth Hill development. (1502231AM2)
NAWN 1502231AM2 Spofforth Hill development protestors. David Walton, Graham Penney and Jim Walton look at paper work connected to the Spofforth Hill development. (1502231AM2)
  • A legal fund has been set up with view to a potential judicial review
  • Protesters, maintaining their opposition since 2013, have already consulted a solicitor
  • Spofforth Hill plans for up to 325 houses, from Bellway Homes, have not been given approval yet, but the final decision is with planners

Residents fighting against plans to build up to 325 homes on a Spofforth Hill field have taken the next step in their opposition.

The active group that has consistently maintained objections against proposals from Bellway Homes since they were first submitted in 2013.

The end goal, if deemed feasible, is to seek judicial review to overturn any approval of the development.

Protester Jim Walton

Feeling they have exhausted all other avenues, including calling on the Secretary of State for Local Government to intervene, they have now written to 440 Spofforth Hill residents to support legal fund, with a view to engaging a solicitor to look at the potential of a judicial review.

Group spokesman Jim Walton said: “We continue to believe the application has been predetermined. We are almost certain the 500+ objections have not been considered, and the council is required to do so in my understanding, and that might be a question of undue process in itself.

“They have almost totally ignored the national policy guidelines. Though they are not required in law to observe them, they have ignored them, on everything from traffic to pollution. The list is endless.

“We have consulted a solicitor and though he hasn’t made a recommendation yet we have talked about the case in principle and there are one or two avenues he is pursuing closely.”

Though the solicitor, from Kingsley Smith Solicitors, Chatham, is only giving advice at present, the end goal, if deemed feasible, is to seek judicial review to overturn any approval of the development.

The housing scheme for the 36-acre site has not yet been formally approved by Leeds City Council (LCC), but in October 2014, the city plans panel passed a recommendation to delegate final approval to planning officers.

LCC would not provide a comment on the case, but a spokesman confirmed that officers are still looking at section 106 agreements - a set of conditions to be met before planning permission is signed off, subject to agreement between the applicant and the council. These include an £8.5m contribution in place of some affordable housing.

If officers are happy, everything will be finalised and an approval will be put forward.

A Bellway spokesman said: “Bellway maintains it is still looking forward to providing new family homes in the area.”