Canterbury City Council has begun a legal challenge against the government following a decision by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government not to require the developer of Strode Farm to fully fund a bypass for Herne village.
The Strode Farm development is for 800 homes on land around Bullockstone Road and Lower Herne Road and was granted planning permission by the Secretary of State last month (August).
However, although the Secretary of State acknowledged that improvements to Bullockstone Road would be necessary to serve the Strode Farm development, his decision did not require the developer, Hollamby Estates, to pay the full costs of an upgrade to Bullockstone Road between Lower Herne Road and the A291.
Instead, it relied upon funding coming from another development in the town at Hillborough, but with no mechanism in place for how that could be agreed or a timescale for it.
Therefore, as it stands, there is a decision to allow this development to be built with no upgrade to Bullockstone Road, leaving the resultant road network incapable of serving the increased traffic from that development.
After careful consideration, the council has decided to begin the process of seeking a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision, on the grounds it allows a major housing development to go ahead without essential infrastructure being secured.
The council’s Head of Planning, Simon Thomas, said: “There is a key point of principle at stake here – the need for the right infrastructure to be provided when new homes are built. At Strode Farm, Bullockstone Road is woefully inadequate to serve 800 houses, and for the necessary improvements to that road not to be secured as part of the planning permission is simply unacceptable.
“To be clear, we are completely supportive of houses at this location. It is one of the main development sites in our Local Plan and the homes are desperately needed. But we have been left with no choice other than to take this action to secure the infrastructure to go with them. We are standing up for Herne village and fighting for the road improvements the area requires.”
A second element of the legal action concerns the fact the Secretary of State has granted planning permission for the development without carrying out an ‘appropriate assessment’, which is required under European legislation when a plan or project is likely to have a significant impact on a site such as a Special Area of Conservation or a Special Protection Area.
In this case, the development would be likely to have a significant impact on Herne Bay’s coastline, which has a variety of valuable marsh and estuarine habitats that support an abundance of wildlife species, and an ‘appropriate assessment’ is required. There is also a need to consider the effects on the air quality zone in Herne village.
The council has now lodged its papers with the High Court to seek a judicial review but a decision is not due for several weeks.