A Conservative peer has begun a legal challenge against a controversial planning decision by the secretary of state for local government.
At a public meeting on Monday night (January 9), Baroness Cumberledge revealed she is instructing lawyers to appeal against a decision by local government secretary Sajid Javid to overturn a Lewes District Council ruling on a development in Newick.
Speaking this week Baroness Cumberledge, who is a resident of the village, confirmed she and her husband Patrick are funding the challenge after Lewes District Council said it could not justify funding an appeal it expects to lose.
She said: “We are challenging the Secretary of State on the granting of a specific planning application on the grounds set out in our appeal document.”
The appeal comes after Mr Javid overturned a Lewes District Council decision to turn down a planning application for a 50 home development at Mitchelswood Farm.
The council had turned down the plans in February 2015 due to its concerns surrounding the site’s place within the Newick Neighbourhood Plan, a document which sets out where residents would and would not like development to take place.
However after a public inquiry Mr Javid overturned the decision as a planning inspector said the neighbourhood plan could not be used to refuse ‘suitable applications’.
This decision has been widely criticised and also triggered the resignation of five members of Newick Parish Council in protest.
Speaking this week the former councillors welcomed Baroness Cumberledge’s offer to fund a legal challenge into the decision.
Former Newick councillor Chris Jago said: “After seeking advice, Lewes District Council had decided not to appeal so it was realised that without local action, Newick’s Neighbourhood Plan would be fatally compromised and the village was at high risk of uncontrolled future development.
“However, any appeal would need considerable financial commitment and there was insufficient time over the Christmas period to secure the necessary backing, despite the village having shown that it was not adopting a NIMBY attitude by embracing the originally proposed 100 new homes.
“Nevertheless, Baroness Cumberlege and her husband felt strongly that it was completely unacceptable for the village to now be at such risk of massive future development which would completely change the character of the village.”
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