Following Buckinghamshire Council’s decision to approve the 170 homes planning application in Maids Moreton, longstanding village resident Patrick Hardcastle has announced that he will be seeking a Judicial Review of the decision.
Pat is well-placed professionally to be taking this action, having served first as a forestry officer in Malawi, followed by 10 years’ teaching at Oxford and Aberdeen Universities and then 30 years advising aid agencies on sustainable development. In a long and distinguished career, Pat’s focus has always been on the social and environmental needs of communities, and promoting development that is both sustainable and responsive to the needs of those communities.
Speaking at two village meetings over the weekend, Pat contrasts his approach with the planning system in the UK, which he describes as:
“Purely target driven. Building X number of houses without considering what types of houses are needed or where they should be built to minimise the impact”.
Pat is highly critical of the failure of developers in the UK to consult with the communities where they propose to build – and a planning system which allows that to happen. He describes the public exhibition held by David Wilson Homes (DWH) at the Rugby Club in November 2015 as:
“Nothing more than a tick box exercise”.
Pat goes on to say that:
“Had there been real consultation, the village could have agreed to 60 or 70 houses that were a mix of genuinely affordable, social and for downsizing or sheltered living. But DWH had no interest in that approach. DWH want maximum profit“
Pat is also critical of the way Buckinghamshire Council planners seem to sign off developers’ plans without ensuring there is compliance with the aims of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) or even their own rules and procedures. He cites the lack of scrutiny and the many contradictions, omissions and irregularities in the 170 homes application, adding:
“It seems the Council is only concerned with meeting its housing numbers target“
He is realistic about what can be changed.
“We can’t change the planning system but we can at least draw attention to what is happening – the Council’s failure to hold developers to account, The way they have ridden roughshod over our interests. The destruction of an historic village and the distinct community that thrives here. We are not NIMBY folk; we just want to have our views heard and properly valued”.
To raise the necessary funding for the legal action, Pat has launched a crowd funding drive via JustGiving. Pat recognises that it will be an enormous challenge to raise the required sum but believes if the village pulls together, the target can be reached.
Pat’s JustGiving page can be visited using the following link https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/patrick-hardcastle