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Daws Hill residents to pull Wycombe District Council up before judge
A NEIGHBOURHOOD Forum will pull a council up before a judge over its decision to remove key sites from the area it will serve - with residents to pay £10, 500 from their own pockets to do so.
Residents last night voted in favour of the Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum taking Wycombe District Council to a Judicial Review.
The row centres on the area the forum will cover – it was designated in September but council chiefs refused to include the former RAF Daws Hill and Wycombe Sports Centre sites on its patch after taking legal advice.
The ruling was ‘called-in’ by the council’s Improvement and Review Commission but Cabinet upheld its original decision – leaving the forum with “no option” but to put their case before a judge.
Chair of the forum, Stewart Armstrong, believes the judgement flies in the face of the Localism Act and said it was imperative Daws Hill residents had a say in the proposed major developments on the two battlegrounds.
He said: “None of this makes sense. How can we have a Neighbourhood Area which excludes two of the biggest planned developments in Wycombe when they are on our doorstep and part of our neighbourhood?
“We must have an input and recent legislation says that we are entitled to have one - to give us a chance to shape what is best for the area and all of Wycombe.”
DHNF’s Angus Laidlaw added: “This part of Wycombe is already gridlocked and these developments will affect the town and the surrounding area.
“The road infrastructure, utilities, schools, healthcare and the town will not cope with these developments unless there is sensible local input.”
Daws Hill residents need to club together £10,500 for a Protective Cost Order - which puts a limit on how much a party can be liable for, regardless of the result - with the council’s PCO likely to be in excess of £30,000 in a winner-takes-all scenario. An appeal can be logged against the judge’s decision.
Barristers have agreed to work on behalf of the forum on a no-win no-fee basis, as they chase the kudos of creating Localism Act case law.
DHNF committee member Roy Carlisle said: “It’s ridiculous residents have to fund legal fees out of their own pockets because the WDC doesn’t want to give us the right to set out a Neighbour Plan to have a say over what could be built in our area.
“These proposed developments - and their impact on the infrastructure - do not seem to have been properly considered. It’s hard to see the long term commercial gain if Wycombe becomes one giant car park.”
The forum’s fundraising appeal began in earnest at last night’s inaugural meeting, with residents and ward councillors pledging to dip into their pockets and tell neighbours about the plan.
Cllr Trevor Snaith of the adjoining Ryemead ward said he would chip with money out of his budget as it would be “to the benefit of the wider town”.
Catherine Spalton, spokesman for Wycombe District Council said today: “Neighbourhood Planning is a new area of law, having come into effect under the Localism Act 2011.
“Prior to making a decision about the proposed Daws Hill Neighbourhood Area, the Council took legal advice which confirmed that we could reduce the Neighbourhood Area applied for if there were sound planning reasons to do so, which there were.
“We will await formal notification of a judicial review of the Cabinet decision(s). Once we have received that, we will make a considered decision on how we will respond.”
For more information about the Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum’s fighting fund, click here.
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