Wal­ton sports hub work set to con­tinue

But ju­di­cial re­view to probe le­gal­ity of joint home for foot­ball teams and ath­let­ics club

Staines Informer - - NEWS - Char­lotte To­bitt

A JU­DI­CIAL re­view into Elm­bridge Bor­ough Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to grant it­self plan­ning per­mis­sion for the sports hub in Wal­ton has been al­lowed to go ahead by the High Court.

A group of Sun­bury res­i­dents, along with the pro­pri­etors of the Weir Ho­tel in Water­side Drive neigh­bour­ing the sports hub site, were given leave on Wed­nes­day last week to ju­di­cially re­view the plan­ning de­ci­sion and the case is likely to be heard at the Royal Courts of Jus­tice in the au­tumn.

Ac­cord­ing to Matt Dav­i­son, co-owner of The Weir, the judge said there was an ar­guable case that the coun­cil had erred in law in giving it­self plan­ning per­mis­sion for the site, which would house Wal­ton & Her­sham FC, Wal­ton Ca­su­als FC and Wal­ton Ath­letic Club.

Mr Dav­i­son said: “We are ob­vi­ously pleased be­cause all along we have thought the de­vel­op­ment here was po­ten­tially not right.

“When the coun­cil is judge and jury it should bend over back­wards to make sure that it’s com­pletely le­gal and above board and I don’t feel that it has which has been borne out by the judge’s judge­ment that there is an ar­guable case.

“I hope that the cur­rent coun­cil puts the de­vel­op­ment on hold un­til the re­view car­ried out by the judge.”

Muriel Bankhead, of Parke Road in Sun­bury, agreed, say­ing: “As long as there is leave granted for the plan­ning de­ci­sion to be ju­di­cially re­viewed the coun­cil can­not con­sider it has law­ful plan­ning per­mis­sion and there­fore can­not do the work.”

How­ever, an Elm­bridge Bor­ough Coun­cil spokesman con­firmed that work, cur­rently at the re­me­di­a­tion stage, will con­tinue on site.

The spokesman said: “At the High Court on May 25, 2016 Mr Jus­tice Sup­per­stone de­cided that the claim brought to chal­lenge the grant of plan­ning per­mis­sion for de­vel­op­ment at Water­side Drive could pro­ceed to a hear­ing.

“Mr Jus­tice Jay had ear­lier de­cided that the claim was not ar­guable. The coun­cil will ac­cord­ingly pre­pare its case in de­fence to the claim on a date to be set by the court.”

Cam­paign­ers claim the coun­cil un­law­fully ap­plied the green belt pol­icy and failed to pro­tect the open­ness of the green belt.

They be­lieve the de­ci­sion should be quashed.

The ju­di­cial re­view is sup­ported by the Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land whose is Sur­rey branch direc­tor Andy Smith said: “We are pleased to hear that the ju­di­cial re­view will be go­ing ahead.

“CPRE is sup­port­ing this le­gal chal­lenge as we be­lieve Elm­bridge Coun­cil was wrong to grant per­mis­sion for this de­vel­op­ment.

“It is in­ap­pro­pri­ate de­vel­op­ment in the green belt, which the coun­cil should never have ap­proved, and we be­lieve the process by which this de­ci­sion was made was fun­da­men­tally flawed.”

Coun­cil­lor Chris Sadler, port­fo­lio holder for re­sources un­der the new Res­i­dents’ Group and Lib­eral Demo­crat ad­min­is­tra­tion, said: “Where we are is that it’s a very big project, it’s a con­tro­ver­sial project, it’s some­thing that we haven’t been di­rectly in­volved in cre­at­ing.

“We’ve been to var­i­ous meet­ings but we haven’t been in­ti­mately in­volved in the way the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion were.

“We have had a brief dis­cus­sion with the chief ex­ec­u­tive about it and agreed we should have a full brief­ing about it, which will take some time to do.”

A crowd­fund­ing cam­paign will soon be launched to cover the costs of the ju­di­cial re­view.

Dar­ren Pepe HI125848

Le­gal fight: Jenny Grant, Alan Doyle, John Hirsh and Muriel Bankhead gather pe­ti­tion sig­na­tures against the proposed sports hub in Wal­ton.

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