LEADING law firm, Dickinson Dees, which has an office in Thornaby, has won a high profile planning case for its client, The Manydown Company, in which Basingstoke council has been ruled to have acted 'unlawfully'.
Mr Justice Lindbolm upheld an action for judicial review brought by Dickinson Dees against Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in relation to land that the council purchased from The Manydown Company in 1996.
The Manydown Company had been induced to sell the land to the council on the assurance that it was acquired for a flagship development. However, in a decision characterised by the court as "irrational", the council concluded in 2011 that the land could not be considered for planning development due to ownership constraints, despite the fact that the owner of the land was the council itself.
The judge said: "I cannot see any escape from the conclusion that the council’s decision was not only inconsistent with the purpose for which the Manydown land was acquired and held, but plainly contrary to that purpose."
The Court ruled that the council acted ‘unlawfully’ in deciding to rule out the building of new homes on the 2,000 acre site and now has to put a new core development strategy out to consultation.
Frank Orr, director in the planning practice at Dickinson Dees said: “We are delighted with the result of this case on behalf of our client, The Manydown Company. It is clear that the council acted unlawfully and we hope that the council realises the potential of the land at Manydown for the benefit of the local community, as was originally intended to be the case.”
The decision has been welcomed in the Basingstoke area where there had been widespread local outcry about the council’s handling of the planning process.
Development of the land at Manydown offers a unique opportunity to deliver better infrastructure, facilities and open spaces for public enjoyment, along with a range of improved housing.
The council has been ordered by the court to pay The Manydown Company’s costs as a result of the case.