Old Hunstanton Parish Council defeats attempt to overturn court ruling

John Dobson. Picture: Ian Burt

John Dobson. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A parish council has defeated an attempt to overturn a court ruling by the secretary of state.

In July last year, Old Hunstanton Parish Council blocked a controversial housing development on the edge of its village in the High Court.

It had been up against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hastow Housing Association and King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council at the time.

But yesterday, lawyers representing the secretary of state took the case to the Court of Appeal in an attempt to overturn the ruling.

They claimed the high court judge, Justice Lang – one of the country's senior planning judges – had got it wrong. Last year she ruled that the complex 'rural exception' policy did not apply to the case, stating the 15 planned homes would end up being used by residents of the nearby town of Hunstanton, and not from Old Hunstanton itself.

But Richard Honey, representing the secretary of state, argued yesterday before three of the country's top judges that her interpretation was too narrow and legalistic.

He said that development did help meet the housing needs of the local area, adding there were enough people with connections to Old Hunstanton in need of housing to justify the development, even if they did not live there at the present time.

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The appeal court rejected his arguments and refused to overturn the order refusing planning permission.

John Dobson, chairman of the Old Hunstanton Parish Council, said: 'We recognise the need for housing in rural areas.

'But that doesn't mean that those charged with providing it can ride roughshod over small parish councils and disregard rules and policies.'

He said the result was 'a feather in the cap' for a small parish council that stood up for itself.

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