Henry V – by William Shakespeare
For the second time Mr Tim Steer (pictured) has rallied himself to “take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing them end them?” Again it relates to planning application Y16/0623/SH Little Densole Farm, Canterbury Rd, Densole. He and his legal team has successfully lodged a second judicial review at the High Court. We the Shepwayvox Team wish him the best of luck and offer him our full and unreserved support.
The case is between:
The 5.5 hectares site at Little Densole Farm, sits in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and locally designated as a special landscape area.
To remind you, the first judicial review began way back on a cold winter’s night in February 2017. In this blog post we the Shepwayvox Team, set out how close Cllr Monk was to the applicants, Mr & Mrs Westgarth.
It was the Shepwayvox TEAM who made clear that after a health incident while on holiday in Spain in 2013, Mr & Mrs Monk were forced to return to the UK. However, they had to stay with the Westgarths, because at their home in Densole, the builders were undertaking renovations.
On the 29th May 2018, the planning application Y16/0623/SH returned to Folkestone & Hythe District Planning Committee, as was necessary because their first decision, taken on that cold winter’s night of Feb 2017, was deemed irrational, by the courts. It is this second resubmission which has led to the second judicial review.
Now on Mr Steer spoke against the application and the Folkestone & Hythe Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Stuart Peall, who is one of the District Councillors for the Swingfield area; which is known as North Downs East Ward, spoke against the application too. He, unlike Cllr Monk, alleges he does NOT “know” Mr Westgarth.
Now eight Cllrs voted to approve the decision on the 29th May, might they too have behaved irrationally and potentially cost us another £48,875? The total sum payable last time around was LSR Solicitors – £11,185.42 (made up of £9,085.50 plus VAT plus printing/postage/conference call costs of £282.82); Daniel Stedman Jones – the Barrister FHDC used in the Judicial review – was £14,940.00 (made up of £12,450.00 plus VAT), amounting in total to £26,125.42. So add that to £22,750 costs FHDC must pay one has £48,875.
Anyway, moving on The Cllrs who voted for were:
Councillor Jennifer (nine homes) Hollingsbee (seconder)
Councillor Len Laws
Councillor Michael Lyons
Councillor Damon Robinson
Councillor Roger Wilkins
There was one abstention and Councillor Susie Govett asked that her vote against the application for approval be recorded.
Judge Howell who granted permission for the second Judicial Review, has said of the Cllrs decision: “It is at least arguable that [the committee] failed to give any reasons for rejecting their officer’s appraisal that the development and associated landscaping proposed would not conserve the existing character of this part of the AONB…and that it would introduce alien and incongruous features that would permanently change the existing character of the landscape in that area.”
Mr Steer said: “Not for the first time the council will waste taxpayers’ money defending the blatantly questionable decisions of its planning and licensing committee, a committee which in my view is not fit for purpose and is unable to grasp or follow policy and legislation.
“It might appear to some that this particular committee simply follows its own agenda.”
He said the project would cause “permanent destruction” of the AONB.
So it will be a few months yet before this second judicial review of planning application Y16/0623/SH Little Densole Farm, Canterbury Road, Densole ,comes before the High Court. When it does will it it like the last irrational moment by eight Cllrs, cost the ratepayers of our incredible district more than £37, 432? Only time will tell.
We wish Mr Tim Steer and his legal team the best of luck in their case.
The Shepwayvox Team – Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful
PS Much of the information in the blog posts ended up in Private Eye, the Magazine (see above). It ended up there because our public face supplied the details of a contact at the magazine to Cllr Susie Govett, who then using our blog’s info supplied it to them.