Villagers force housing plan to be decided in High Court

Campaigning villagers who object to planning permission being given for houses to be built in a small field which they say has been a ‘lifeline during the pandemic’ have forced a High Court hearing on the issue.

By Nick Rennie
Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 5:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 5:48 pm
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Melton Borough Council refused approval for the scheme for nine properties at Blacksmith End in Stathern.

But an appeal, made by Matthew Atton, was upheld by an independent inspector at a hearing last month.

The decision sparked anger amongst objectors in Stathern - more than 100 people had written to argue against the original planning application.

And they were also unhappy that an inaccurate version of the Melton Local Plan appeared to have been referred to by the appellant and by council officials during the appeal. They feel this had an impact on the final decision made by the inspector.

Members of local development action group StAG, who described the appeal hearing as ‘chaotic’ during the confusion over the exact details of the Local Plan, called on the council to mount a section 288 challenge to the appeal decision and the authority confirmed this week it will now do that.

A High Court judge will now rule on the issue.

A spokesperson for Melton Borough Council told the Melton Times: “The council has received a number of concerns from members of the public and is also disappointed with the decision to overturn the planning committee’s decision.

“In January 2020, the council’s planning committee refused permission for a planning application in Stathern.

“This applicant appealed the decision to an independent planning inspector and, following a hearing on February 2, the appeal was upheld.

“The council is committed to supporting its community and, having taken legal advice, will be launching a s288 challenge of this decision which will be considered by the High Court.

“The council is unable to comment further whilst legal action is underway.”

The new court action will give villagers renewed hope that they will be able to use the field in future years.

One resident, who declined to be named, said: “It’s not just about our little field, it’s bigger than that, but the field matters too - we are a small community, lots of us go there every day to walk our dogs and it’s been a lifeline during the pandemic.”