CAMPAIGNERS are racing to raise £30,000 to fund a legal challenge against a controversial greenfield development on the edge of Milford.
Villagers have launched a fundraising website as they seek a judicial review of a planning appeal that gave the go-ahead to 42 homes on fields off School Lane.
As reported in the A&T, last month a government-appointed inspector reversed New Forest District Council’s earlier refusal of Pennyfarthing Homes Ltd’s scheme.
Opponents argued the proposals did not meet local policy requirements for 30 affordable dwellings to justify building on the land – which had previously been taken out of the protected green belt on condition it was used for cheaper housing.
Pennyfarthing had offered 19 affordable homes which the inspector accepted, concluding that any more would have threatened the financial viability of the “sustainable” plans.
Campaign group SLAM – School Lane and Manor Road – have refused to give up, however, and this week announced they would continue the fight in the courts, if they can raise the cash to pay for a barrister.
Members will argue the inspector made an error in law, so the appeal decision should be quashed.
Their fundraising website states: “We need to raise further funds to support an application to seek a judicial review on the decision government’s inspector made during the appeal process by the developer.
“This means he made an error of law and did apply it correctly during the appeal process.
“This is our last chance of quashing the decision to allow planning on former green belt land that was only to allow 30 houses maximum for the local community.
“We have a very good barrister and he would not take on this case unless he thought we had a good chance of succeeding. Please help by supporting us to overturn the decision made by the inspectorate.”
It adds: “Let’s not lose our green belt to fill the pockets of the developers with massive profits.”
By midday today (Friday) the SLAM appeal, which launched online on Tuesday, had raised £450.
Ben Arnold, Pennyfarthing land and planning manager, said: “It is disappointing that SLAM has decided to attempt a judicial review following the independent public inquiry decision for the site in Milford.
“We have been working with the school, NFDC and other authorities to commence work on the development at the start of the school holidays to minimise disruption to the school and local residents.
“We are seeking to complete the school drop-off for the start of the autumn term to prioritise school children’s safety.
“Ultimately, the judicial review will not stop this allocated housing site from coming forward for development, it will only delay matters further.”