Press release: Whole Plan is flawed and at risk of legal challenge

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Press release 29 January 2018: 

Whole Plan is flawed and at risk of legal challenge

In a 13-page legal opinion obtained by CAUSE, Martin Edwards, of Cornerstone Chambers, launches a blistering attack on the North Essex Authorities (Braintree, Colchester and Tendring).  He says that the Councils “appear intent on disregarding the concerns of, and clear guidance from, the Inspector”.  He explains why the evidence that the plan has been prepared with a closed mind is so strong that the process may be invalid from the beginning.

Mr Edwards highlights a number of examples of predetermination and possibly unlawful behaviour by the Authorities and at risk of legal challenge:

He says that current public consultation is “merely a token exercise devoid of any genuine and substantive purpose”, adding, “it is difficult to see how any further Sustainability Appraisal work and/or consultation on the Plan can be fair, genuine and done with an open or receptive mind.”

He goes on to say, “At present the NEAs may be open to the accusation that they are devoting scarce public funds and resources, particularly in an age of austerity, in ploughing on with proposals that the independent inspector charged with the task of examining the Plan has highlighted, in very public documents (his letters), significant shortcomings and fundamental flaws.”

In his opinion “the NEAs have ignored the inspector’s clear indication of the need for an independent legal opinion to be obtained.”

CAUSE’s spokesperson, Rosie Pearson, said, “The problems raised by Mr Edwards will not disappear.   In the next couple of weeks our councils are to vote on whether to spend another £450,000 each on the mess which is the North Essex Garden Communities project.   Apart from a very small group of excellent and engaged councillors, the majority are still unaware of, or choose to ignore, the problems associated with the garden communities.  If this legal opinion doesn’t wake them up, then sadly, it seems as though the only thing which will do is any legal challenge by an aggrieved party in the not too distant future.”

“However, that does not need to happen.  There is a solution:   prevent any further money being diverted to NEGC Ltd.  Above all, read the Inspector’s letter carefully and protect us all from speculative developer applications by getting the respective district Local Plans in place.”

Contact:  A copy of the full opinion is here:  Legal opinion, Martin Edwards, Cornerstone Chambers