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Litigation team take on Bradford Council and Barratt Homes

Schofield Sweeney’s Alistair Kennedy is leading a team of litigation lawyers in a ground-breaking judicial review for the Menston Action Group (MAG).

MAG was formed in 2010 to represent the residents of Menston and is objecting to Barratt Homes’ and Taylor Wimpey’s proposals to build over 300 houses on fields at Derry Hill and Bingley Road, at the heart of Menston village.

The site at Derry Hill has been given planning permission subject to various conditions. One of those conditions required Barratt Homes to submit a drainage scheme for their development based upon sustainable drainage principles. A scheme was submitted in early 2014 and was approved by Bradford Council in August. It is that decision; to approve Barratt’s scheme and find it compliant with the drainage condition, which is being challenged by MAG on the basis that the Council failed to properly consider the scheme submitted by Barratt, which it is alleged was fundamentally flawed in any event.

Judicial Review proceedings were issued by Schofield Sweeney in September and the first issue, whether MAG would be given permission to proceed with their claim, was listed for a full day hearing in the Administrative Court on 19 January 2015, with David Wolfe QC appearing for MAG.

In an important ruling, which considered national issues related to sustainable drainage and appropriate requirements for developers in alleviating flood risks, as well as the validity of the procedure adopted by Bradford Council when making their decision, Mr Justice Stewart gave MAG permission to proceed with their claim. It is believed that this is the first time that a Judicial Review of approval of a drainage condition has proceeded to a full and final determination in the High Court.

Alistair Kennedy stated following Judgment that:-

This is an extremely important issue for MAG and the residents of Menston who are desperately worried that the proposed development at Derry Hill will make existing flooding in Menston much worse and have an impact on residents’ properties and the village generally. Bradford Council and Barratt Homes are both working hard to prop up the Council’s decision and defeat MAG’s claim. Clearly for Barratt Homes, being allowed to proceed with this development will generate significant financial reward. Schofield Sweeney have worked with MAG over many years, for the large part on a pro bono basis. We remain committed to stand alongside MAG and ensure that the interests of Menston residents are protected”.

Schofield Sweeney’s Chairman, Chris Schofield, has been working with MAG from the beginning and has offered his time throughout free of charge. Last week MAG achieved a very significant victory when, following representations by Mr Schofield and members of MAG, the Regulatory and Appeals Committee of Bradford Council rejected the recommendation of their own officers and refused plans for 137 homes at the site on Bingley Road.

Menston residents held a referendum opposing the developments at Derry Hill and Bingley Road several years ago. 98% voted against the proposed developments and 2,000 letters of objection were submitted, despite this Bradford Council still approved the schemes. MAG has long argued that both sites suffer from problems with water emerging from the ground and that the proposed developments would increase flooding in the area. An independent expert on flooding, Dr Duncan Reed, has supported these claims.

Over £100,000 has already been raised by local residents. The funds are a necessity in what has become complex and high profile High Court litigation.

Alistair Kennedy, Partner, is available for comment on the above case on 0113 220 6271.