Swindon’s Conservative Council has abandoned their attempts for a judicial review to the government planning inspector’s decision to grant 100 homes at Berkeley Farm in Wroughton, after the High Court said such a review would not be successful.
Following the decision in January by the Planning Inspector to overrule the decision of Swindon Borough Council's planning committee to reject 100 houses being built on the Berkeley Farm site in Wroughton, the Conservative Administration had announced that they would seek a judicial review. Through a council press release in February, Councillor Toby Elliott, Cabinet Member for Planning, said the Council must stand up for local people and that they had received legal advice saying a judicial review could be successful.
At the time, the Swindon Labour Group criticised the decision to seek a Judicial Review as a waste of money with no chance of success and that the only winner from this review would be the planning lawyers. The Conservatives refused to accept this, but have since made a U-turn and decided not to pursue the Judicial Review, following the High Court’s verdict.
Labour's Shadow Cabinet spokesperson on Strategic Planning, Jim Robbins, said:
"The Conservatives decision to no longer pursue a judicial review on Berkeley Farm is yet another broken promise they gave to Wroughton residents on this issue. First they said they’d be able to stop this application through the planning system and they did not, then they said they’d challenge the inspector’s decision through judicial review with a good chance of success and they now admit they’re no longer pursuing this. I think Councillor Elliott and his colleagues should apologise to the people of Wroughton for such errors in judgement.
Now Swindon Council has ended up spending tens of thousands of pounds on this planning application with nothing to show for it, despite Labour’s repeated calls to not waste this money. Sadly, I was right when I said the only people who would win with Swindon Council pursuing a judicial review would be the planning lawyers.
This has been an utter mess and arguably means that Swindon’s Local Plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. So much for the Conservative Government claiming they wanted to localise planning. In actual fact they’ve centralised every planning decision and are perfectly happy to ignore local residents.
With the decision of another planning application for homes in Wroughton pending, it is only a matter of time before the government steps in to approve even more homes in Wroughton.”