Legal battle over Long Sutton eco homes plan

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A parish council is taking a fight against plans to build nearly 90 eco-homes in its village to the Ombudsman after suffering a blow.

A change to the green credentials of the homes to be built at the former Butterfly and Wildlife Park in Long Sutton were voted through by the narrowest of margins, eight votes to seven, at a meeting of South Holland District Council’s planning committee last Wednesday.

Long Sutton Parish Council said the homes were approved despite being outside the planning boundary due to the exceptionally high-quality eco specifications – and believe a change of one of the planning conditions weakens the homes’ credentials.

It has now made an official complaint to the district council and Ombudsman, and following an extra ordinary meeting on Thursday, it has also pledged to seek a Judicial Review.

Parish clerk Karen Treacher said the council will allocate the necessary funds to proceed with the legal action and “continue to fight on our parishioners’ behalf”.

At the meeting, parish council vice-chairman Jack Tyrrell said: “The application for the amendment states that it is required due to a change in legislation and, in supporting documentation, there are quotes from a proposal by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

“But this was not a factor when the initial application was approved and there are no supporting documents containing any actual change in the law.

“A (planning) condition cannot be amended on what may be a future change in the law by a government that has not yet been elected.”

The plans were originally approved in January last year and changes to the environmental benefits the homes would provide were agreed in November.

But the parish council warned planning committee members that it was planning a legal challenge to the decision and after a review of information given to the committee at the time of November’s vote, the application was brought back to be considered again last Wednesday.

A report prepared for the meeting said: “The council’s planning officers considered it prudent to undertake a review of the information that was before the committee on November 26, 2014, with the benefit of legal advice, to ensure that the decision reached by the committee was lawful.

“As a result of that review, it has become apparent that an error was made in terms of the information presented to the committee about the differences to the development that would result from the amended condition.

“Whilst the development remains largely the same with the amended condition, it is not correct to say that it would remain precisely the same.”