KRAG Secretary Paul Murray says:
"KRAG are very happy that the application for leave to appeal document submitted by the Treasury Solicitor has adopted such a robust tone. This has considerably improved their lacklustre defence presented at the High Court hearing held on 26th June 2014. They now seem to fully understand that the resolution of this matter has significant National implications in terms of the continued protection of the Green Belt against inappropriate development."
"To put it bluntly this judgement affects every single Green Belt application and appeal in England".
The Treasury Solicitor states clearly in paragraphs 1-3 of their Appeal Document the importance of Green Belt policy, and how the decision in this matter could result in:
"immediate and wide effects on day to day decisions".
On this basis the Government now appear to realise that this case (if lost) will create a precedent that could cause a permanent breach of the protection against inappropriate development that existing Green Belt policy has maintained for over 60 years. KRAG maintain their consistent position of nearly 25 years that any reduction in the protection of the Green Belt must not be allowed to happen.
The issue revolves around the interpretation of paragraphs 87 and 88 of the NPPF. The challenge by Redhill Aerodrome Ventures (RAV) has had the effect of creating uncertainty in the planning system. This uncertainty needs to be swiftly resolved.
The attitude of RAV’s legal team is breathtakingly arrogant as they are effectively taking the position that their interpretation of the NPPF is correct and consequently the Government (who's policy it is) have a lesser understanding of their own policy. The result is that even more public money has to be spent in defeating a planning application that has fallen at every hurdle with the exception of the recent High Court judgement.
The plain fact of the matter is that RAV have waged a planning "War of Attrition" on the local population for over 20 years with their desire to develop this Green Belt site. They have made repeated, but broadly similar applications during this period, all of which have been consistently opposed by the local community and the relevant local authorities. The Aerodrome was a Green Belt site when RAV purchased it in the early 1990's and yet they continually ignore this fact in an attempt to generate profit for their own benefit.
Current planning policy allows for repetitious planning applications to be made which in our view highlights a major flaw in the existing planning process. The system permits developers to effectively bully their way to gaining planning permission based on the depth of their pockets. Allowing this inherently unfair system to continue unchanged not only wastes public funds but causes blight and uncertainty within local communities who find themselves worn down by the unreasonable aspirations of predatory developers. This should not be allowed to continue.
Via the application for leave to appeal the recent Redhill Aerodrome High Court decision, the Government now clearly signal their intentions concerning this issue. Even if this matter could be considered to be the difference between the "spirit of the law" and the "letter of the law", the Government position indicates that they categorically believe that the proposed development of Redhill Aerodrome should not proceed in the form proposed, as it would inherently damage the Green Belt in which it sits. This remains contrary to current and long standing Government Green Belt Policy and is a view also reached by Planning Inspector Diane Lewis at the Public Inquiry held in January 2014.
The determination of this matter will directly impact other Green Belt planning decisions and so it assumes an importance far beyond the confines of Redhill Aerodrome. Future interpretation of Green Belt policy and subsequently Green Belt development proposals will be directly affected by the decision in this matter.
KRAG would like to thank Tandridge District Council, Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, local MP’s Sam Gyimah and Crispin Blunt, MEP Keith Taylor and the numerous County and District Councillors who gave evidence at the Public Inquiry against this development. The democratically elected representatives were unanimous in opposing the development and reinforced unanimous local opinion. This represented an unambiguous demonstration of “Localism” in action. Yet this strong bank of evidence appears to have been given little or no consideration in the determination of the proposal. This brings into question what the Localism Act actually represents.
KRAG urge the Government to maintain a resilient and consistent approach to resist inappropriate development within the Green Belt. This will ensure that these vitally important areas continue to be protected for future generations.
Further reading (All Adobe Acrobat format):