Warwick campaigners declare ‘fight must go on’ over housing

MHLC-29-08-13 Housing Aug83'Development of land for houses, south of Warwick at Gallows Hill and Europa Way. ENGNNL00120130829102330
MHLC-29-08-13 Housing Aug83'Development of land for houses, south of Warwick at Gallows Hill and Europa Way. ENGNNL00120130829102330

Warwick campaigners have declared that “the fight must go on” despite deciding not to launch a legal appeal against the Asps housing decision.

Save Warwick has revealed its disappointment over a council decision not to challenge the secretary of state after he allowed 900 new houses to be built on land off Europa Way.

we feel nothing but contempt for the Secretary of State

David Williams

The campaign group, which has been vocal in its opposition to the homes, alongside growing development in the town.

And after news that Warwick District Council will not launch a legal challenge to the decisions, the group said that the fact the law is on the minister’s side does not make the move any “more palatable”.

Spokesman David Williams said: “I fully sympathise with the council for taking this decision.

“On the other hand, we feel nothing but contempt for the Secretary of State.

“At a stroke he decided to disregard his Inspector who, after hearing all the evidence, made a firm and unambiguous recommendation that the proposal should be rejected.

“Evidence, it seems, is not enough.

“We considered challenging the decision but our lawyers advised that the minister’s decision could only be challenged on a point of law and there is no case to answer.

“All this is less important than the fact that allowing these 900 houses in the wrong place, on 50 hectares of the finest agricultural land in open country, will seriously damage the conservation area of one of England’s finest historic towns.”

The group has also questioned what the decision means for the future of planning in the hands of locally elected representatives after the housing plan as rejected by the district council and an inspector before being overturned to push through property developments to meet low housing numbers.

Campaigners said they will continue to fight the building of thousands of houses around the town over the next decade as outlined in the district council’s Local Plan for development.

Legal advice given to groups following the minister’s decision was that a challenge would be unlikely to succeed.

A Warwick District Council spokesperson said any legal challenge to the decision must be made on the grounds of procedural flaws rather than housing supply issues.

A second application at Gallows Hill joins the northern part of the Asps site and includes up to 450 homes and a country park. Following an appeal of the council’s refusal in 2014, this application was also granted by the minister this year.

The council is expected to include the houses within its latest Local Plan draft, which will be unveiled to members for a vote in the coming weeks.