Following the NANT “pre action” letter from our solicitor and QC, formally putting the council on notice of the pending legal proceedings through the judicial review process, Head of Planning, Philip Ridley has backed down.
NANT said that the council had acted unlawfully when it decided to delegate its powers to the head of planning and the planning portfolio holder, Messers Ridley & Smith. This decision was made at the Council meeting on July 27th. At that meeting, Mr. Ridley finally acknowledged, again under pressure from NANT’s solicitor, that in the light of new evidence and factual errors made in the previous AA, further studies were needed on the Sustainability Assessment (SA) and the Appropriate Assessment (AA). He also acknowledged, somewhat belatedly, that the council was required to submit those amended documents to a public consultation. So far so good. However, despite not knowing what changes were to be made to the SA and the AA and what would come out of the public consultation, a majority of the councillors were persuaded to pass a resolution that gave the power to Messers Ridley and Smith – to decide, without further reference to the councillors, if the LDF/Core Strategy should go forward as interim planning policy.
So, full council will now meet to look at the new information and then take a vote on whether to adopt the LDF/Core Strategy for themselves. This gives us another opportunity to lobby the councillors, particularly those who voted in favour of the previous resolution. It also serves to highlight the fact that Messers Ridley & Smith, who are constantly reassuring and giving “comfort” to councillors that their advice can be relied upon, are not quite so infallible in their judgment as they proclaim themselves to be.
Clearly the matter does not end here – we hope that the councillors will now accept that serious errors have been made and that they will vote accordingly. However, if they do vote to adopt the LDF without addressing the several substantive issues that have been raised by NANT’s solicitors and QC, including errors regarding Housing Numbers, Transport and European Habitat Directives, we are more than ready to take the next step in the legal action to prevent the council from giving carte blanche to BT and their development plans at Martlesham.