Legal action threat to Dinan Way plan
PUBLISHED: 09:15 25 January 2016
County highways bosses have been threatened with court action over plans for the long-awaited completion of Dinan Way.
Rob Longhurst, a parish and district councillor from Lympstone, says the village has not had a fair say in the planning process, and that he will lead a bid for a judicial review – a case review by a judge - to block the scheme, if more consultation is not held.
Devon County Council’s (DCC) cabinet last week approved preliminary designs for the new road, which would link Hulham Road and the A376. But county councillor for Halsdon and Woodbury Bernard Hughes said there was still time for Lympstone’s concerns to be heard.
Cllr Longhurst said: “They are saying the scheme is going forward to planning. I said, if we didn’t get a fair say on this, Lympstone is going for a judicial review and will take DCC for every penny we can and we will win, because at the moment they are not doing it the right way.”
Cllr Hughes said: “If Cllr Longhurst thinks that’s what he wants to pay for, then he can do it if he thinks that’s appropriate, but this [cabinet decision] was really for officers to start work on preparing a scheme. Nothing is decided.”
The county council’s consultation on the Dinan Way plan, held last year, proposed two routes, a ‘valley’ route and a ‘south’ route. The south route proved more popular with the public, but the National Trust was opposed to the road passing near its A la Ronde property in Summer Lane.
DCC therefore came up with a compromise third route – the one backed by cabinet last week.
But Cllr Longhurst argues that this third route follows far more closely the original ‘valley’ route than the ‘south’ route.
He says that the south route should be pursued, arguing that potential benefits include improving the road junction at Courtlands Cross, a lower construction cost, and preventing water run-off draining into the Wotton Brook and causing potential flooding problems for Lympstone.
Cllr Longhurst says that the county council’s preferred route goes against public opinion, and that the views of Lympstone councillors were not properly represented when Cllr Hughes addressed the cabinet.
Cllr Longhurst said: “I don’t think [DCC] has been following the due process. I would be leading efforts to have a judicial review if we are not given appropriate consultation. If [officers] come to us and say ‘We are here to listen, we will consult still on two routes’, that’s fine. If they say ‘No, it’s been decided by cabinet, it’s this route or nothing’, that’s when a judicial review would kick in.”
A potential judicial review has not yet been formally discussed by Lympstone Parish Council, but Cllr Longhurst said he would be prepared to lead a bid with or without its backing.
Responding, Cllr Hughes said he had told the cabinet there were concerns from Lympstone, and said these would still be listened to, despite the motion approved by the cabinet being that ‘the preliminary scheme layout… be approved to proceed with a planning application’.
Cllr Hughes said: “There is still room for negotiation on the points of objection being raised by Lympstone. I want that road completed but I hope we can reach a satisfactory conclusion.
“The very first people who are going to be given the opportunity to put their point of view to the engineers are Lympstone council representatives. They are getting the first crack of the whip.”
Cllr Hughes added that it was crucial for the National Trust to be happy with the plan, because the whole scheme could be lost without its support.
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