Boxford Parish Council has agreed unanimously to seek a judicial review of the decision of Babergh District Council (BDC) to grant planning approval to Catesby Development Land Ltd. The Council has instructed solicitors and counsel to seek an order quashing the outline planning decision.

At a meeting of the Parish Council on Monday 4th January, Parish Councillors considered that members of BDC's planning committee had been misdirected on a number of key planning considerations, including lack of awareness that community benefits (a community building) were not in reality being offered to justify a departure from local policy, that a highway proposal to create a footpath linking to the village centre did not conform to national guidance, and that providing such a footpath in Ellis Street would narrow the road causing a conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.

The Parish Council has raised its concerns over the last few months in order that BDC could reflect on the matters of concern, including the provision of an independent highway assessment which concluded that the highway proposals were unsafe. It is regretted that BDC delayed its response and failed to provide adequate answers before issuing the formal planning decision notice just prior to Christmas.

The planning permission was supplemented by a 'section 106 agreement' designed to secure certain collateral benefits. In coming to its decision to seek a legal challenge, the Parish Council considered the fact the agreement does not match the information given to the Planning Committee in June and, further, is arguably illegal.

Following the meeting, the chairman of the Parish Council, Julian Fincham- Jacques, said:

"The Parish Council has supported local housing for local people and has helped to deliver a number of schemes in recent years. The approval given to an out-of-area land agent does not address that need as the quota of affordable housing in the scheme will be available to many thousands of people in many other council areas. It is not local needs housing so will not benefit local people. The outline approval flies in the face of the draft local plan and will create worrying road safety issues within the village. Suffolk County Council has now admitted that the footpath link provided for may not conform to that approved at the meeting, so we are dumfounded that both BDC and SCC have got this so wrong to the extent that there is a legal case for the setting aside of the planning decision."

In the event that the Parish Council is given permission to proceed with the claim, an application for a cost-capping order will be made, limiting adverse costs to £10,000 in the event that the claim is not successful.

Note to editors
1. The original application was refused as it did not meet the test for giving approval in exceptional circumstances
2. The application was resubmitted and lobbying of Councillors took place purporting to bring considerable community benefits. The only new benefit was land for a community building and extra tree planting.
3. When the school is full, children in Boxford will be bussed out to a school with capacity and funded through a developer contribution. This is contrary to SCC and BDC's environmental policies.
4. BDC's Planning Policy Manager recommended refusal of the second application but this was ignored by the case officer and members of the committee. The meeting was held virtually and disadvantaged objectors.
5. A Neighbourhood Plan is being prepared that does not include the site at Sand Hill. This follows the overwhelming objection to the proposal from Catesby at a public meeting and by a full attendance in the public gallery when the first application was heard and rejected.

Contact: Julian Fincham-Jacques
Telephone: 01787 210376