700 homes plan across the border gets the green light

CAMPAIGNERS who have been in a lengthy legal battle to halt a 725-house development being built have been left disappointed after their appeal was thrown out of court.

The controversy over the Dry Street development, which was first given outline permission in 2013, has been a long-running feud between developers and the opposition group, Green Action Group (GAG).

Last week an application to reopen the appeal against the site was put forward by the group to the Court of Appeal, but thrown out by The Rt Hon Lord Justice Lindblom, who claimed there were no “exceptional circumstances that make it appropriate to reopen the appeal”.

The decision means building work, including the relocation of South Essex College from Nethermayne to the town centre, will now begin.

During the battle, which included another High Court bid in October 2014 which was also thrown out, GAG claimed the site should be made a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

They argued that protected species would become endangered and traffic chaos would ensue should the development be given the green light.

The Longwood Equestrian Centre was also forced to move in favour of the development.

There was further uproar when Basildon Council planning chairman Carole Morris approved the first 181 homes on the Dry Street development in September 2015 using delegated powers rather than holding a vote.

She was later removed from her role during a council meeting.

However, Basildon Council say the new development will “bring unprecedented improvements to the Borough’s education and economy”.

The new state-of-the-art South Essex campus will include new courses and a sixth form, and around £5m will be pumped into the regeneration of Market Square. Dry Street will also benefit from plans to include homes, a primary school, parks and retail units.

Councillor Richard Moore Basildon Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and planning said: “It is only the development of housing at Dry Street which is enabling the college to build a state-of-the-art campus which will provide fantastically improved education opportunities for young people locally.

Angela O’Donoghue, Principal and Chief Executive of South Essex College,

added: “The college won’t just be in the heart of the town centre we also want to be in the hearts and minds of the community and we look forward to playing a leading role in the prosperity of Basildon for generations to come.”

Miriam Heppell, Green Action Group secretary, said she was “extremely disappointed” with the Court of Appeal decision, where the Rt Hon Lord Justice Lindblom said that “no real injustice had been identified”.

“GAG are now facing costs awarded to Basildon Council of £2,153.40 as well as legal expenses. It is outrageous that bringing a matter of public interest to the courts should result in costs awarded against the applicant. We have had a local asset destroyed by Basildon Council yet we have to pay them costs for bringing the facts into the public arena.

“There is nothing further that GAG can do in legal terms. To take a case to the European Courts would take a significant length of time and would not prevent the development from moving forward. We will as a group continue to represent and inform local residents on issues involving development of green spaces in the area. It is a sad day for all those who supported the campaign to save Dry Street Pastures, our local wildlife site, from this destructive development.”

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