Kingsbridge development row: Council seeks court hearing
(Would this happen in EDDC? – Owl)
A council is taking a developer to court over claims it has breached a notice ordering site work to stop.
South Hams District Council in Devon claims work started “before it was allowed to” in Kingsbridge.
Police have been called to the site at Lock’s Hill as tensions between local residents and the developer have risen.
Housing developers Blakesley Estates said the stop notice was “redundant” because the work being done did “not represent” a start to construction.
Planning permission for 32 homes at Lock’s Hill was granted by South Hams District Council (SHDC) in December 2020.
The notice issued by SHDC on 14 May said “pre-commencement conditions include the requirement of a scheme for the protection of retained trees”.
Judy Pearce, leader of SHDC, said: “The temporary stop notice was issued because the developer had started work before it was allowed to do so under the planning permission.
“It was also the case that the works that it had carried out were causing significant environmental damage.”
Ms Pearce said the council was gathering evidence to “prosecute the developer and all those not complying with the notice”.
Blakesley Estates says it had advised the council trial pits and fencing work would be happening
Blakesley Estates said it had previously made SHDC aware of preliminary works that would be carried out that required temporary fencing.
In a statement the developer said the fencing had been vandalised and it was working to make the area safe “before this cessation can commence”.
The statement said: “Where building operations are stopped, allowance should be made for any work necessary to make the site safe.”
The developers also claimed some of their staff had been threatened.
The statement said: “Terms such as ‘ecocide’ and our lack of regard for the environment is a narrative being perpetuated in order to generate angst in the local community by those who wish work would not commence on the site.”
The council issued a temporary stop notice for 28 days
Dan Sathers who founded the Save Lock’s Hill group said he was feeling “emotional” seeing the hill being dug up.
“During lockdown people rediscovered it again…it became so important during a very difficult time.”
He told the BBC the site was full of birdsong, bats and slow worms and is calling for ecological surveys to be done again.
Lesley Hurrell who lives nearby said: “We never thought this would happen.”
She said she hoped action against the developers “will make them understand they cannot ride roughshod over us all”.
In a statement Kingsbridge Police said they were “very aware of the community feeling” but it was a civil matter and would not be dealt with by police.
A spokesman said officers attended the scene to gather evidence and “prevent any breach of the peace”.