On 12th December 2019, Leeds City Council (LCC) made an application to the High Court that the Aireborough Neighbourhood Development Forum did not have the ‘legal standing’ to challenge their decision to release Green Belt in Aireborough for the Site Allocation Plan (SAP).
LCC lost their case: the Judge, Mrs Justice Lieven DBE, said the argument being advanced by Leeds City Council and two Developers might be said to be an “unnecessary technical obstacle” to the ANDF Claim.
The Judge rejected LCC’s application on the basis that the Forum was properly constituted with a purpose relating to good planning in Aireborough. Further, ANDF had made representations throughout the SAP process on the nature of future development in the area and it would be ‘unfortunate’ if the law then prevented the Forum from challenging a decision which they had participated in .
The ANDF has therefore been given a hearing on our Green Belt Challenge on behalf of residents on 4th & 5th February 2020, Royal Courts of Justice, London
CROWDFUNDING FOR LEGAL FEES
However, despite the generosity of local residents and businesses we have not yet met the funding target for the hearing and need YOUR help fairly urgently to pay for legal representation. We appreciate that many people were waiting to see if we got a hearing before making a contribution.
Time is now of the essence with February fast approaching. So, if you want to see the decision on releasing Green Belt in Aireborough for development, with all the issues that entails, reviewed by a Judge, you can support that with a donation or pledge. Full details here. There will also be a leaflet delivered over the next week to many homes in the area. If you have any questions then call the Forum on 0113 2503580
DESIGNATION OF THE FORUM USED TO STOP OUR CHALLENGE
One of LCC’s key points in contesting our ability to challenge their decision was that the Forum is legally an unincorporated association [as are many community groups] and as such, is not a “person” aggrieved by the Council’s plan to release Green Belt!
LCC’s Barrister placed strong reliance on the fact that the ANDF is not currently a Neighbourhood Forum designated by the Council to do a neighbourhood plan for Aireborough. However, the reason for this is because the Council has not yet responded to our application of 13 July 2019 for redesignation to carry on doing the Neighbourhood Plan. We should have had a decision from LCC on our application by the statutory time limit of 14th November 2019. Yet, despite attempts by both our Local Councillors and solicitors to get an answer on the reasons for the delay – we still have not had an answer as of 16th January 2020 – two months late, and six months after the initial application.
What LCC do not appear to appreciate is that the ANDF was set up to support individuals and groups in work relating to the sustainable development of the Aireborough Neighbourhood Area. Only after we were formed did we apply to them to formally do a Neighbourhood Plan as part of our work because Guiseley and Yeadon had no Parish Council . At a similar time Rawdon Parish Council also applied to do a Neighbourhood Plan.
DISCUSSIONS WITH MINISTERS AND PLANNING APPLICATIONS
While waiting for a response from LCC for designation to formally carry on with the Neighbourhood Plan we have continued with work such as responding to planning applications eg Silverdale Allotments, inputting to planning proposals from developers eg Wills Gill, and helping with the set up of Friends of Springfield Park & Guiseley Wells.
We have also met with Planning Minister Esther McVey to discuss the issues with flooding on the Ings Lane proposed development site. In addition, we have discussed with Secretary of State Robert Jenrick the ideas for the Neighbourhood Plan put together in conjunction with the Academy of Urbanism from all the evidence the Forum has gathered since 2014. Both meetings set up at our request by Stuart Andrew MP.
For LCC to imply that the Forum and its members were not a “person aggrieved” by their decision on the SAP, and by implication merely a ‘busybody’ with no ‘skin in the game’, Could not be further from the truth. We have worked hard with members and local people to understand development issues in Aireborough and work on potential solutions based on professionally supported evidence. See much of it here.
We therefore welcome the Judges decision and move forward with our Green Belt Challenge with your help.
TEXT OF LEGAL JUDGEMENT
You can find the full legal judgement here – it relied on a lot of caselaw and will probably be of interest to people interested in legal decision. Otherwise the beginning and end are the most informative. We would like to thank our Barrister Ms Jenny Wigley of Landmark Chambers, London, and our legal team at Town Legal LLP, London.
SUPPORT FROM NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS
As part of our discussions on the Claim we have won support for the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) , and you can find the article on the Aireborough case it on their website here.
BACKGROUND TO THE CASE
More details on the reason for the Green Belt Challenge here – as well as in the CPRE article above.