Stansted residents urged to help fund 'David and Goliath' fight against developer Bloor Homes' 168-homes scheme
The Save Stansted Village (SSV) campaign group is calling on residents to help fund its challenge to a proposed new housing development as it prepares for a “David and Goliath” battle.
It needs to raise more than £20,000 to employ expert consultants to argue its case at a public inquiry starting on July 13 against the building of 168 homes on open farmland off Pennington Lane.
The hearing will consider Bloor Homes' appeal against planning authority Uttlesford District Council’s refusal to grant it planning permission. SSV and Stansted Parish Council have been granted ‘Rule Six’ status to speak on equal terms alongside the council and the appellant.
SSV chair Jamie Hogg, who is also a parish councillor, said he hoped the community would be willing to contribute. “We have to give this our best shot and it costs what it costs,” he said.
“I've been told that at these inquiries the developer would expect to spend close to half a million pounds on their witnesses and a barrister – it’s David against Goliath in every sense.
“We have to focus on the key issues for this inquiry: the loss and damage to the landscape. There's a huge amount at stake.”
So far the fund has raised £8,500, including £1,000 contributed by the parish council. SSV has employed planning consultant Steven Stroud at a cost of around £10,000 and is looking to spend a similar amount on a landscape consultant.
“We need expert advice from people who understand planning policy and inquiries, to hold our hands and help us prepare documents and make sure we're saying the appropriate things in terms of planning,” said Mr Hogg. The campaign also has printing and banner costs.
"It's not a bottomless pit. So far we've raised £8,500, which is a huge amount for the community to contribute. People are very generous because they're so concerned about this, particularly those living in Rainsford Road and Croasdaile Road who would be hugely impacted by traffic. People feel very strongly about this."
SSV has launched a petition which so far has 900 signatories.
As to the inquiry outcome, Mr Hogg said he was "cautiously optimistic". SSV won on appeal in 2013, blocking a similar scheme by Taylor Wimpy, but more recently the system was proving unpredictable, as residents in Henham and Elsenham discovered to their cost after a Government inspector ruled against them.
"If we cannot win this, I don't know what we can win. You have to hope that good sense prevails, as it did last time," he said.
For details on how to contribute to the fund or to sign the petition visit www.savestansted.co.uk.