Monthly Archives: May 2017


We’ve previously said that MtGG will only be involved in Grainger’s court action in the background. This has proved to be only partially true. Today we sent an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ to the High Court. This informs the court that we are an interested party that has a view on matters. 

The Acknowledgement of Service is an opportunity for us to set out clearly how Grainger’s claims of legal error are unfounded. With the help of our lawyers and the support of the Parish Council we’ve been able to explain how their case is as spurious as the inspector’s judgement is sound. 

This step, you’ll be glad to know, does not commit us to any expensive on-going involvement in court proceedings. Not that we should worry too much. One would hope Grainger’s ridiculous attempt to void fair process will fall at the first hurdle and be thrown out before it gets to a full hearing. 

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We have another developer keen to build in East Hagbourne. Leaflets were delivered today by Greenlight Developments concerning a Public Consultation into a 74 unit development on the field surrounding Hagbourne Village Hall. 

Greenlight have asked SODC for an opinion regarding a Environmental Impact Assessment. This is an uncontentious technical exercise but a precursor to a formal outline planning application.

We have carefully considered how the Campaign should react to Greenlight. There’s is a clue in the name: Mind the Green Gap. We are a “single issue” group. We took our remit from the local community when it came together in the Village Hall on that fateful evening in 2015. A remit to save the green gap that protects Didcot and East Hagbourne from coalescence. 

Our single issue campaign was also a time buying exercise. We needed to fight off this attack whilst the community achieved more control over development in the parish through a Neighbourhood Plan. MtGG’s view is that we should focus all efforts on getting the Neighbourhood Plan ‘made’ as quickly as possible. Most of the MtGG committee are part of the Plan team. Our efforts, and those of all Plan team members, are focussed on completing a plan that has teeth. 

We know that there are other Developers about to break cover. We are still fighting a battle (vs. Grainger), but concentrating on winning the war (via the NP). It is only by winning the war that we can hope to be successful in winning individual battles. 

Meanwhile ... East Hagbourne Parish Council are carefully monitoring the Greenlight situation and they’ll most likely respond to the consultation. You may want to do the same. Remember that developers are obliged to take note of the results of community engagement. Have your say. 

So, while MtGG will not be the leading the charge we're here to help. We're keen to share our experience and insight if we're called upon to do so. 

Greenlight’s consultation website is here: 

(Credit goes to Andrew Oldfield for the title of this post!)

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Grainger has made its move. One day before the deadline is up it has launched a legal challenge against the appeal verdict. 

Grainger’s options are limited. It cannot ask for a ’second opinion’ on the substance of the decision – it can only challenge the lawfulness of the process. It has sent an initial ‘Statement of Facts and Common Grounds’ to the High Court of Justice (you can see it here). In due course there is likely to be a court hearing where a judge will perform a Judicial Review and rule on the matters of law. 

Grainger site three 'grounds' – three areas in which it contends that Katie Child, the Inspector, erred in law. They contend that she: 

  • Misinterpreted development plan policy in relation to gaps
  • Gave too much weight to 'out of date' policy        
  • Misinterpreted the definition of ‘valued landscape’

None of these are a silver bullet for Grainger. The Inspector’s decision was sound and rational and Grainger faces an uphill battle in persuading a judge that the nuanced legal technicalities it sites undermine this fact. 

Why have Grainger done this? 

You may agree that Grainger’s move is cynical in the extreme. It is happy to ignore the view of our local politicians; the view of our Parish, Town and District councils; the view of the Planning Committee; the view of the Inspector; and the view of hundreds of concerned residents. 

This cynicism is born of the huge profit it seeks to make. It has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds so far – but what’s a couple of hundred more when there are millions to make. And to add insult to injury should they win the judicial review it’s us residents, as tax payers, that will foot the bill and pay Grainger’s costs. 

Grainger are motivated too by the prevailing winds of changing policy. SODC’s new Local Plan is reaching maturity; Didcot Garden Town’s plan’s are evolving; and The East Hagbourne Neighbourhood Plan is drafted. None of this is good news for Grainger. They’re making a bolt for the door before it shuts. 

How long will this take? 

Assuming that the Secretary of State decides to defend their inspector (we presume they will) the case should get to an initial hearing in the next 1-2 months (the forthcoming General Election may lengthen this time). If the Court thinks it is a worthless claim it will be kicked out immediately. If the initial hearing indicates that there are proper grounds to the challenge then it should get a full hearing 3-4 months after the initial hearing. The decision emerges 1-2 months after that. 

What can we do as a campaign? 

Mind the Green Gap have not been cited as a defendant (which is probably good news). So, our input will be in the background rather than centre stage. We have sought legal advice and will provide help and support wherever it is needed. 

What can we do as a community? 

We are not yet sure how individuals can participate in proceedings (as soon as we know so will you). We do know for sure that whatever the outcome of this process it is vital that a strong and well supported East Hagbourne Neighbourhood Plan is in place as soon as possible. The Steering Group have been working hard on drafting the plan. You can hear how its progressed and show your support at a meeting at 7.30pm on 18th May at the Pavilion. 

What if Grainger win? 

Even if a judge rules in Grainger's favour they cannot then order in the bulldozers. Instead the whole process will re-set – perhaps to the beginning where a fresh development application will be made. This is our understanding to date. If we get advice that is contrary to this we’ll let you know.

What if Grainger lose? 

Grainger has appealed to the High Court so any further legal action should it lose the case is very unlikely. Grainger’s last chance will be up. Its last role of the dice will be zero. The Green Gap will be saved! 


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