A CAMPAIGNER has won her first High Court battle to try to stop Rochford District Council pushing ahead with plans to build more than 1,000 homes.

Linda Kendall, chairman of the Rayleigh Action Group, is challenging the council over plans to build 550 homes on green belt land in Rayleigh, and a further 500 in Hullbridge, by 2021.

She has enlisted the help of Cambridge-based solicitors, who are experts in environmental and public law, and will face the council in the High Court tomorrow.

The council had tried to halt the case before it got to court by removing a protective costs order, which would have meant Ms Kendall would have been liable for the council’s legal costs should she lose.

Two weeks ago, a judge granted the removal of the order, but Ms Kendall challenged the ruling and was successful in overturning the decision last Wednesday.

She said: “It was very nerve-wracking. The council’s sole objective was to bankrupt me.

“If the order had been removed, I would have had to drop the case – I’m already having to pay a significant amount for my own costs.

“We went to the top High Court judge on planning and, after eight-and-a-half hours, they sided with us.”

The protective costs order is now in place, meaning, should Ms Kendall lose her case, she would be liable for her own costs and just £5,000 of the council’s.

It has previously been reported Ms Kendall needed in the region of £40,000 to fund her challenge and she has been trying to raise money from members of Rayleigh Action Group and the Hullbridge Residents’ Action Group.

Brian Carleton, chairman of the Hullbridge group, is a former chartered surveyor and has been supporting Ms Kendall’s case.

He said: “It is absolutely brilliant news. I am over the moon.”

A spokesman for Rochford District Council said: “The substantive matter remains before the court and until the case is determined the council is not able to comment.”