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Latest news on ADVEARSE Legal Case April 2020

Vearse Farm, Bridport, Dorset Vearse Farm, Bridport, Dorset

6th April 2020

ADVEARSE has, overall, lost its judicial review of West Dorset Council’s outline planning permission

ADVEARSE has, overall, lost its judicial review of West Dorset Council’s outline planning permission for what is believed to be the biggest ever development on a single area of outstanding natural beauty at Vearse Farm, Bridport.

In a written judgment issued on Monday 6 April, ADVEARSE was found to have won the legal argument on the first ground of their case — that the former West Dorset Council (since subsumed into the new unitary authority) had failed to have regard to statutory provisions and national planning rules that require the harmful impact of the development on the conservation area and heritage assets to be assessed against the public benefits.
The judge, Mr Justice Swift, said that ADVEARSE’s criticisms were ‘well-founded’ as the Council had not properly addressed the application of the relevant section of the National Planning Policy Framework, ‘a matter material to the decision the Council had to take.’ However, the judge said, ‘The role of the court is no more than to ensure that the decision and the decision-making process meet basic legal standards’, and because he believed the Council’s inadequacies may have made no difference to the committee’s ultimate decision, he had to rule against the claimants. The other two grounds of the case were rejected.
In response to the decision, Peter Bowyer, Dorset CPRE Chair of Trustees, said "This outcome is very disappointing. It is clear that the planning authority in Dorset has little respect for the designation of the AONB. Dorset deserves to have a better planning service for the area. The fundamental questions of the right numbers of houses,the right places and the right tenures are not being addressed within the current planning system. Alternative community driven approaches are necessary in order to ensure that the incremental urbanisation of Dorset is not allowed to proceed.
We now need the Dorset AONB to be upgraded to a National park. This  would have the responsibility and resources to conserve and embrace our wonderful landscapes while also having the duty to respond proactively to local housing needs and so develop the local housing that local people need."
The full written judgment can be found here:
Information about ADVEARSE can be found at:
Earlier updates
Full Judicial Review hearing on 28th & 31st January 2020
ADVEARSE and Richard Nicholls from Dorset CPRE attended the full Judicial Review hearing on 28 January at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre. The case over run and was completed on Friday 31st January. We are now waiting to hear the judge’s written verdict.

All the lawyers involved representing ADVEARSE, council and developer will make written submissions and present oral arguments on the day. A delegation from Advearse will be attending to observe proceedings.
3rd October 2019 Oral hearing
We were delighted that at an oral hearing in Cardiff yesterday 3rd October the judge gave ADVEARSE the go head for a full judicial review against Dorset Council’s approval for the Vearse Farm Bridport urban extension – the biggest ever development in an AONB. The judge agreed that the case is ‘arguable’ and gave his permission for it to proceed to a full hearing. It was deemed to be a significant case in planning law and the JR is therefore likely to take place early in the new year.  

ADVEARSE raised funds for a judicial review against West Dorset District Council’s consent to allow 760 houses (plus industrial development and other mixed use – and up to 930 houses planned) to be built on Vearse Farm, in the Dorset AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), just outside Bridport. The planning committee has completely ignored the overwhelming opposition of local people to the urban extension of Bridport's historic little market town.  

Biggest development on AONB land
Vearse Farm is set to be the biggest development ever to be built on AONB land and, if it goes ahead, it will effectively destroy all AONB protection and make it OK for all our countryside to be concreted over.  However, if the ADVEARSE judicial review is successful it will set a helpful legal precedent that can be applied all over the country. This is one of the reasons why Dorset CPRE is match funding the Judicial Review application up to a maximum of £10,000. Read our previous news item for more details.

More information can be found on


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