Friday, December 20, 2013
The redevelopment of Budleigh’s Longboat Café could finally be going ahead, after a judicial review by campaigners fighting to save it was rejected by the High Court.
The review, which was filed by the Budleigh Longboat Association’s David Daniel, argued that East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) decision to grant planning permission for the scheme last year was wrong.
The case was considered by Judge Birtles at the High Court last month, and he has today (December 20) issued his written judgement, in which he states there was insufficient merit in the campaigners’ case for planning permission to be overturned.
In a statement, Mr Daniel said that the Longboat Association, which believes the café building is a historic 19th century Admiralty boathouse, was disappointed, but accepted the judge’s decision.
The ruling means that after a saga of repeated planning applications lasting many years, there is now nothing standing in the way of Longboat Café owner Brent Hushon’s dream of tearing it down and building a modern, two-storey café in its place.
EDDC planners first gave the green light for Mr Hushon to develop the cafe in 2010, but this plan was scuppered when the council refused to sell him the neighbouring shelter, the site of which formed part of his plan.
Mr Hushon then filed a plan for a smaller café, but this was refused in February 2012.
However, a third application, submitted as an amendment to this plan, was then approved by EDDC in June 2012.
It is this decision that the campaigners objected to, but having seen their claims rejected by the High Court, it seems they are now powerless to stop the building being demolished and replaced.
Mr Daniel said in his statement: “The Budleigh Longboat Association and its many friends are surprised and disappointed that in a written judgement issued today, Judge Birtles, did not find sufficient merit in its claim to quash the Longboat Café planning consent of 2012.
“Judges do have considerable discretion and the case has to be exceptionally strong to succeed. Although all who supported the appeal are disappointed, the decision is accepted.
“When considering planning matters, EDDC is supposed to act, and to be seen to act, in a quasi-judicial and fair way. By pursuing this action we have made the point that the EDDC faces the real risk of legal challenge from objectors whenever they attempt to push procedural boundaries to support their recommendation.
“There are already signs that, as a result, EDDC is now paying more attention to the
correctness of their procedure. For example, they are bringing important
consultee comments, from groups such as Natural England, to the committee, however late in the process they arrive, rather than ignoring them; and they are making full audio recordings of proceedings so that there can be no doubt about what was said.
“So far the Longboat applicant has refused to work with the community to find
a solution which is sympathetic to the history of the existing building and natural beauty of this World Heritage Site. We recognise that to remain economic the Longboat Cafe needs refurbishment and remodelling. It is still not too late to find a solution that enhances rather than dominates the heritage landscape; most importantly, the solution should be one which commands local support without which local businesses cannot flourish.
“The legal challenge was issued in the name of David Daniel and he would like to thank all those in the Budleigh Longboat Association who have supported him over the past six years.
“All concerned greatly appreciate the specialist professional support received in recent months from the newly- formed East Devon Alliance and from local councillors.”
After the judicial review was granted earlier this year, Mr Hushon had submitted another planning application to develop the Longboat Cafe, but this was rejected by EDDC in July.
Mr Hushon then filed an appeal against this decision, which is currently ongoing, but with the judicial review being rejected he no longer needs to win this appeal to go ahead with his plans.