Time runs out for controversial housing plan in Menston

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Campaigners against a 173-home development in a West Yorkshire village have vowed to continue their long-running legal battle after it was revealed the developer's planning permission had expired.

The Barratt Homes scheme in Menston has been the source of some controversy for more than a decade, with residents claiming it would increase the risk of flooding.

And the Menston Action Group (MAG) have now taken an appeal against the plans to the Supreme Court after a series of legal bids over the course of nearly six years.

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But Bradford Metropolitan District Council has since revealed that the planning permissions at the contested Derry Hill and Bingley Road sites are no longer valid.

In an email to Menston Parish Council, the local authority’s senior planning officer Stewart Currie said: “Both the outstanding planning permissions have now expired, with neither permission being implemented.

“The former expired on the 24 October 2016 and the latter on the 3 January 2016.”

Dr Steve Ellams, chairman of Menston Community Association and opponent to the plans said the news was “most welcome”.

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He added: “The decision to allow the planning permissions to expire is a tacit acknowledgement that these sites are not suitable for development.”

The group is currently fighting for a judicial review to scrutinise the sustainable drainage principles of the scheme.

Their original request was rejected by the High Court last year, a decision that was upheld by the Court of Appeal in July.

Barratt Homes stressed it is still interested in pursuing the scheme, although it would have to re-apply for planning permission. A spokesperson said: “Barratt Developments has a contractual position on the site and remains committed to the project at this stage.

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“We are awaiting the Supreme Court verdict on the ongoing judicial review proceedings before progressing our planning strategy for the site.”

Menston Action Group claim that the current plan for the scheme doesn’t allow for a sufficient drainage system to suitably allieviate the risk of flooding.

Dr Ellams said: “Council officers have refused to engage meaningful consultation with Menston residents or acknowledge clear evidence that the two sites flood.

“The watercourses and combined sewers which serve the village downstream of the sites simply have no capacity to cope with the proposed developments.

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“We feel that Bradford Council left us with no choice but to go to court.”

A spokesman for the council’s planning department denied that the development would put the village at a high flood risk.

He said: “Neither the Council Drainage team, Yorkshire Water, nor the Environment Agency have found any clear evidence to suggest that the two sites flood or watercourses and combined sewers cannot cope with the proposed developments.”

MAG believe their campaign still has a long way to go. Dr Ellams said: “The expiry of the planning permissions will not mean the end of our legal case.

“The law in this area needs clarification and the issues 
involved are important for housing development across the country.”