Judicial review threat to council over ‘defective’ and ‘flawed’ transport plans

The planning application was for a site at Westfield Road in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

The planning application was for a site at Westfield Road in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

A council has been threatened with a judicial review over claims plans for hundreds of new homes are based on 'defective' and 'flawed' transport assessments.

George Freeman, mid Norfolk MP. Picture: Ian Burt

George Freeman, mid Norfolk MP. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Proposals for 291 new houses in Toftwood, on the outskirts of Dereham, were approved by Breckland councillors last year.

But the controversial proposals, for land near Shipdham Road, Westfield Road and Westfield Lane, faced significant opposition with plans initially rejected by councillors months previously and the scheme blasted by the mid Norfolk MP George Freeman as an example of "house dumping".

READ MORE: Another 291 homes to be built on outskirts of Dereham after plans approved despite opposition

And now the row has escalated, after town councillors in Dereham wrote to Breckland Council to threaten a judicial review over the transport assessments the plans' approval was partially based on.

A letter from the town council's solicitors, Leathes Prior, sent to Breckland Council's planning department on Monday, October 28, stated: "The transport assessment of the applicant and the addendum report are defective and contain fundamental flaws."

READ MORE: MP blasts planners for 'house dumping' over proposal for 291 homes

The letter claimed assessments of the proposals' impact on the Tavern Lane and Yaxham Road junction and the Shipdham Road and School Lane junction "do not adequately assess the impact or the severity of the impact".

Lawyers for the town council said flaws meant the assessments "failed to comply" with national planning policy and transport guidance, which sets acceptable waiting time limits for junctions, and said the proposals would have a "severe" impact on traffic in areas which were "over-capacity".

READ MORE: Controversial bid for 291 Dereham homes to be reconsidered by council

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While plans were approved by the committee, Capita, who handle planning on behalf of the council, have not issued a formal approval for the scheme, submitted by developer Lanpro on behalf of Glavenhill Strategic Land.

And the letter warned Breckland that if plans did receive formal approval, Dereham Town Council "would have an extremely strong case to challenge the decision to approve the proposal by way of judicial review".

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While Mr Freeman said new housing in the district needed to come with infrastructure, and added: "Dereham already has severe rush hour congestion, and associated increased pollution, and any new housing development application needs to show a sustainable transport plan."

A spokesman for Breckland Council said: "Breckland Council's planning committee resolved to approve the application for this site after taking traffic-related advice from the local highways authority.

"The highways authority has already reviewed the site's transport assessment and confirmed it is content with the findings and how it has been carried out.

"The site in question has been identified for housing growth in our draft local plan and takes into consideration the cumulative impacts of development in the area.

"We note the comments from the town council regarding the transport assessment and will be considering this alongside recently-received comments from the independent planning inspector regarding the local plan."

READ MORE: How did your Breckland councillors vote on 291 homes in Dereham?

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