Hopes for legal fight over Norwich growth plans

The lawyer heading the legal challenge against development plans for the north of Norwich said he is 'hopeful' of success after a preliminary review of the evidence.

Members of the Stop Norwich Urbanisation (SNUB) group have challenged the joint core strategy (JCS) adopted by the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP).

The strategy approved by GNDP council partners – including Broadland, Norwich, South Norfolk and Norfolk members – setting out where 37,000 homes and 27,000 jobs should be created over the next 15 years.

At a public meeting last night, environmental lawyer Richard Buxton said his team had begun working towards their scheduled High Court date of December 6 as they attempted to quash the decision to adopt the JCS.

Mr Buxton outlined the case to an audience of about 120 people at the Holy Trinity Church and Community Centre in Rackheath.

He said procedural aspects of the consultation had been flawed because realistic alternatives were not considered as part of the environmental assessment, and there was a lack of assessment of the proposed Northern Distributor Road (NDR).

'What we are talking about is the procedure, not the merits of the scheme,' he said. 'The bottom line question in any court is whether the public had a say, a proper platform to be consulted on? Basically, did the councils do a proper job as they are required to do? Our preliminary assessment is that they did not.

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'We have received a mass of evidence from our opponents and we have to go through it very carefully. Our barrister's preliminary view is that we are right to proceed. We will provide a robust legal argument and hopefully we will eventually succeed in the High Court in December.'

Earlier in the meeting, SNUB chairman Stephen Heard said the group relied on donations to help the legal fighting fund, and that he had 'sleepless nights' over the potential implications.

'There is a risk we may lose, and if we lose we will have to pay some of the fees,' he said. 'When people ask what they can do to help I say make a donation, otherwise I may find myself having to sell my house to pay the legal fees.'

SNUB member Richard Williams outlined the progress of the campaign during the last two years, and criticised the 'unelected and unaccountable' workings of the GNDP board in trying to push through 'excessive and unjustified' development.

Andrew Boswell, a green councillor at Norfolk County Council, also questioned the validity of the NDR proposals and encouraged those attending to send a postcard to Norman Baker, parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport, saying they had not been properly consulted.