£10k fighting fund bid

A fighting fund of £10,000 has been launched in a bid to stop major housing developments on the outskirts of Wetherby.

Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 12:29 pm
Harrogate Road, Wetherby. Picture by Google

Better Wetherby Partnership, which was formed this year to protect the town’s character, said it now needs funds for a legal battle.

“Further to recent developments on both the Racecourse Approach and Harrogate Road proposed developments, Better Wetherby Partnership has identified the need for funds to fight for a better Wetherby,” said a spokesman for the group.

“The immediate use of funds is to obtain legal advice regarding a Judicial Review of Harrogate’s decision to grant permission for the Harrogate Road/Stockeld Park development.

“In the case of the Racecourse Approach application, additional funding is needed to counter the misleading assertions put forward by the developer.”

The group explained that the appeal follows news that Secretary of State for Housing, James Brokenshire, has decided not to stop Harrogate Borough Council granting consent to the Stockeld Park/Harrogate Road application, as requested previously by Better Wetherby.

“Better Wetherby and supporters remain hugely disappointed by this decision, given it took seven months to make with only a brief and unsatisfactory explanation letter received from the Secretary of State,” added the spokesman.

The added that they were not hopeful of a request by Coun Alan Lamb, Vice Chair of Better Wetherby, along with Alec Shelbrooke MP, to the Secretary of State to reconsider.

“Better Wetherby has decided to now take steps towards pursing a Judicial Review to challenge the outrageous decision taken by Harrogate Borough Council last autumn to approve the Stockeld Park-Harrogate Road application.

“As we know, this would see an additional 210 houses being built in open countryside on the edge of the Wetherby leading to significant additional pressures on our already overstretched local services and amenities.”

The spokesman added: “This is not a decision Better Wetherby has taken lightly, especially given the significant challenges we are also facing in trying to fend off the Racecourse Approach development (1,100 dwellings).

“We have, however, been successful in forcing Leeds City Council to reconsider consent for this development.”

During a Judicial Review a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.

And the Better Wetherby spokesman added: “We can only challenge the way in which a decision was made, and if we were successful, then the judge could quash Harrogate Borough Council’s decision and they would then have to reconsider their decision in accordance with the judge’s findings.

“As with most legal procedures, the process can be both time-consuming and very costly and of course there is no guarantee that we will win.

“Although we firmly believe there is a strong case for a Judicial Review on the grounds of procedural unfairness, this in itself may not be enough.”

Donations amounting to £10,000 are now needed to obtain an initial legal opinion to see if they have grounds to proceed.

Anything over this would be used to support initiative to challenge developer paid reports eg traffic survey, pollution.

“This could include initiatives for Racecourse Approach and other areas too,” added the spokesman, who said they had already had promises of support.

Cheques can be made payable to; Better Wetherby Partnership Ltd and posting to Better Wetherby Partnership Ltd, PO Box 755, Wetherby, LS22 9GA, or alternatively by; Bacs payment (include name as reference) to: Better Wetherby Partnership Ltd Sort Code: 402312 Account number: 22537907.