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No new homes on Coombes Farm site in Rochford
JUBILANT campaigners have spoken of their relief after a High Court judge rejected a developer’s plea to build on green belt.
Cogent Land wanted to build 251 homes on Coombes Farm, Rochford , and took Rochford District Council to court after being refused permission.
The council had set out where 1,785 houses can be built over the next 15 years, but the plan did not include Coombes Farm.
The company argued the council’s plan for future housebuilding in the area had denied them “natural justice” and attempted to have it overturned.
But Mr Justice Singh, sitting at the High Court, rejected the developer’s claims.
Keith Clifford, 70, who lives near the site, said residents would be breathing a sigh of relief. He said: “It will be a great relief to everybody living around here. It has been a long time now since this first started and my gut feeling was, in the end, it would probably be built on. It is not only to protect it for us, but other people want to enjoy it as well.”
James Bowker, part of Residents Against Coombes Expansion protest group, said: “I am delighted, everybody is going to be happy.
“I don’t want to be selfish about it however. While we are grateful our campaign has succeeded the development will continue to the west of the town in Hall Road.”
Rochford District Council is now pursuing the developers for £85,000 costs. The council will be paid £30,000 within 21 days and the court will decide whether it should be awarded the remaining £55,000 in the coming weeks.
Cogent Land bought Coombes Farm in 2008 under its previous name Colonnade. After its first plans were rejected, a legal battle ensued with Colonnade eventually withdrawing the plans in June.
In November last year, it held a public exhibition outlining plans for 260 homes on the site, which formed the basis of its latest application, which was rejected.
Mr Justice Singh dismissed arguments the council had failed to give full enough reasons for its selection of potential development sites.
Keith Hudson, Tory councillor responsible for planning, said this was an important victory for the council.
He said: “We’re delighted, but not surprised to see the judge has agreed our plans are ‘sound’ and ‘legally compliant’.
“I sincerely apologise to our residents whose homes and lives have been blighted by the uncertainty brought about by the delays caused by the various court actions. “Unfortunately the council had no control over these events.”