Legal Challenge to South Hams District Council - Broom Park Dartington

by 'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

Legal Challenge to South Hams District Council - Broom Park Dartington

by 'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group
'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group
Case Owner
Local people from Dartington came together to help a claim for a Judicial Review regarding the Broom Park/St Mary's development in Week, Dartington. We want higher standards of consultation & design
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pledged of £13,000 stretch target from 69 pledges
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'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group
Case Owner
Local people from Dartington came together to help a claim for a Judicial Review regarding the Broom Park/St Mary's development in Week, Dartington. We want higher standards of consultation & design
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Aug. 5, 2022

The Heart of Dartington has not lost heart.. please support us

The Heart of Dartington has not lost heart, 

We were not able to progress to the Judicial Review, and that now means we have approximately £8,000 to raise to cover the costs of our Solicito…

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Final planning consent was recently granted by South Hams District Council (SHDC) for the development of Broom Park 'St Mary's' in Week, Dartington. We are supporting a local resident who has initiated legal action in the form of a Judicial Review concerning how SHDC and Baker Estates undertook consultation.

We are calling on South Hams District Council to revisit and fulfill a meaningful planning consultation process involving truly listening to the concerns of the local community and properly consulting with experts on environmental factors of heritage and design

Local people really want something we can be proud of. A design which nestles well within the environment or 'heart of Dartington', and which sits well alongside the late medieval village of week and grade II listed St Mary's Church.

There is no reason why this development cannot be of a high standard worthy of the Dartington and Totnes progressive approaches to sustainability and community resilience. 

Dartington Trust who originally sold the land describe themselves on their website as a “centre for progressive learning in arts, ecology and social justice”, and wish to be known as a centre for regenerative agriculture. We want development which is worthy of the legacy of Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst and their experimental visions for a 'many-sided life'. 

How did we come together as a group? 

A local resident of Week (Dartington) called local residents together who share strong unresolved feelings about the plans to build in the neighbourhood. There is a heart-felt wish to be able to welcome people into an expanding community, alongside a strong sense of anger that we have not been fully and properly listened to. We wish to strongly challenge this development with heart. So we have called ourselves 'Heart of Dartington'.


With support the local resident (claimant) approached solicitors and a barrister who have found legitimate concerns about the lawfulness of the consultation process in respect of the environment (heritage and design). There is no evidence that an internal consultation, formal or otherwise, with the Heritage Officer was carried out.  At the final Reserve Matters stage of the planning process this consultation was essential, where the suitability of the proposed appearance, scale and layout of the dwellings, the landscaping of the site, as well as the amount of open space are being decided on. 

Cllr Jacqi Hodgson, who vehemently opposed the current proposals at the Planning Committee in April said; It’s a real disappointment that my request to the planning committee for a deferral at the time was not supported. This would have allowed these important issues which were raised then, to be reconsidered and a better planning development that could be a benefit to Dartington and support local housing needs, be brought forward. Local Planning Authorities should ensure that they follow their own policies, not leave it to residents to call them out.”

We need your help to raise an initial £13k which would bring this case to the point of a Judicial Review. We have already raised £3k and local residents have contributed further funds to engage the services of the legal team. This amount would cover any costs incurred by the local claimant whose family is on a low income, and would support the initation of the legal challenge and costs incurred by SHDC and Baker Estates for which we would be liable if the case were not won.

We need your support to show that local communities can hold their local authorities to account on poor decision making, and to challenge profit driven housing development in the form of urban sprawl, and to bring about more inspiring plans which respond better to the place and the people.

What are we trying to achieve? - Perhaps SHDC and Baker Estates will meet us prior to Judicial Review, alongside heritage and design experts who should have been properly consulted in the first place, to mediate a better outcome. Or the case may go to Judicial Review which would, if successful, quash the final planning decision and initiate a period of reviewing all of the reserve matters on this development.  

We wish to send a signal to SHDC,  Dartington Trust, and Developers that we will hold them to account for not listening to the needs of the local community and environmental concerns. We wish to challenge Dartington Trust on the impact of selling of greenfield sites in the heart of Dartington.

Next steps? - The legal team have served papers in early June to both SHDC and Baker Estates as part of an application for a Judicial Review of the development planning process. It will take 6 weeks for them to respond and for a Judge to decide by 25th July if there is a case for a Judicial Review.

How much we are raising and why? -  We have incurred costs of approx £7,000 to date. We will incur a further approx £9,000 for the next stage which will determine whether the Judicial Review will be granted. We have received donations of circa £3,000 and therefore need to raise approx £13,000 to complete this stage.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. And we really appreciate any support you can offer.

Update 8

'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

Aug. 5, 2022

The Heart of Dartington has not lost heart.. please support us

The Heart of Dartington has not lost heart, 

We were not able to progress to the Judicial Review, and that now means we have approximately £8,000 to raise to cover the costs of our Solicitors/Barrister, South Hams District Council and Baker Estates (for their responses). Baker Estates by the way wanted to bill our complainant £15k for their response!!

On this Crowdjustice fundraising it would be fantastic if you could help us raise another £3,000k as this will pay off the claimants legal fees. We stand behind him and his family fully as a community campaign. The other £5k we will try to raise through community events and other fundraisers. 

All is not lost though. The huge efforts that have gone into this campaign has made many of us realise how important it is for the community to have a voice. This voice is overidden by poor planning processes, poor consultation, lack of community cohesiveness, the POWER of money and institutions, and government policies. We are now moving towards; more community involvement in local government, considering a Citizens Assembly for the area, helping to bring the Neighbourhood Plan to completion as this can be critical to shaping the future of Dartington, and organising events for community relationships and interactions. 

We still wish for dialogue and collaboration with Baker Estates and Dartington Trust. We also plan to hold them to account. Dartington Trust on it's stated ethos and principles, and Baker Estates on it's business model and practice. 

Please help us relieve the financial yoke and move on by contributing to this crowdfundraiser, and/or forwarding it to friends, supporters and social media. Everything makes a difference. Thankyou

Our website is: , Instagram @heartofdartington,

CrowdJustic crowdfunder

Email us with your ideas, questions, or to offer support

Update 7

'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

July 29, 2022

Bad news, good news

Dear supporters, 

It was dissappointing to receive the news this week that the Judge has not granted a judicial review after reviewing the claim and responses from South Hams District Council and Baker Estates. We are not clear that the judge actually received the full and detailed further response from our barrister as the detailed points raised are not referred to in the judges ruling. 

Our community campaign team spent some time deliberating about whether to appeal this decision which would have been possible, however we are unable to take the financial risks to do so. The claimant then made the decision to no longer pursue the claim. The claimant is fortunately protected by what is known as 'Aarhus' which caps the liability to cover the costs of the defendants to £5k. These costs were stated as £15k by Baker Estates and £4k by South Hams District Council. The judge found the Baker Estates costs to be excessive. 

This means that the campaign will continue to support the claimant to cover the costs of £5k and there are further costs incurred which we will work to repay to the solicitor firm and the barrister. 

So... fundraising continues, and if you are able to support financially or in any other way, we are grateful. Even your messages of support are very helpful to us.

Our target is now £8k. We hope to raise this through a mixture of Crowdjustic pledges, and then we will soon be announcing a programme of fundraising activities based around 'The Heart of DArtington'. 

The campaign continues and remains focussed upon looking after the Heart of Dartington. This 'heart' might represent the heart of any community and bioregion, as it resonates with so many other community concerns around development across the country at this time. 

We intend to continue to challenge what we consider to be poor practice within the local authority around planning, and to promote positive and inspirational approaches to development and planning. We also share concerns about the incongruence of Dartington Trust's values and how they are not reflected in land sales impacting the wider community. 

Thankyou for your support so far,

Mark O'Connell for Heart of Dartington

Update 6

'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

July 20, 2022

Help us over the line this week - JR challenge to SHDC about Broom Park planning

Dear Supporters,

Firstly, let us express our gratitude for the amazing support which has been given in this campaign. We are 93% to the £5k target, with just £350 to raise by friday midday in order for the funds to be released. If we don't reach the target all the pledges will be lost, but we are confident we will get there of course. After this friday the fundraising continues as we in fact need to raise £13k , so there will follow community activities in the Dartington area for months to come. Exciting things and we will message soon about what is planned...

It is probably worth explaining again what you are contributing to and what stage we are at. In April we gathered as a community campaign called 'Heart of Dartington' to support one local resident who was raising a claim (for us all) against the South Hams District Council challenging how the planning and consultation process had been followed. This is a legal challenge for a Judicial Review and the decision will be taken by a Judge by 25th July (so very soon). We gathered many facts and legal information for the Judge to review. Information was first sent to SHDC and Baker Estates, who responded, we then provided a great deal more information in response to this response, and the Barrister last weekend compiled a very impressive response from the claimant with our support. By the way there has been huge effort put in by the team scrutinising videos of the Reserved Matters committe meeting, and also examing the flow of planning activities and how SHDC and the Planning Officer followed (or didn't follow) the due process.  The Barristers response was impressive and there is a positive feeling at the moment about the likelihood of being granted a JR. 

Alongside all this legal process it is important to say something about the deeper reason for this campaign. We want it to be a powerful challenge but also with HEART, thus it's callled 'Heart of Dartington' . There are deep and strong feelings and relationships amongst us with the land, within community, and also many or most of us live in this area with a long standing tie to the history and legacy of the area, including the innovative approach of Dartington Hall Trust, although many of us feel it has lost it's way and is putting finance ahead of it's true ethos. One notable factor is that Dartington Hall Trust has a very differnt approache to sustainability and social justice within it's immediate boundary than it demonstrates towards the wider community and the land it owns (i.e. Broom Park). So there are strong concerns about how the land came to be sold to Baker Estates in the first place. We are therefore concerned to hold Dartington Trust to account on it's own principles and the spirit of Dartington and the Elmhirsts legacy. 

There then follows the concerns about the planning and development process. Baker Estates desciribes itself as a local organisation focussed on creating 'homes' for people, however we have strong concerns that they are driven by profit, and that their approach is minimally responsive to the real issues of the time. There is a great need for really affordable and sustainable housing in the area. There will be an argument from Baker Estates that this campaign is frustrating their wish to create affordable housing, however lets examine what this really means in practice, a small proportion of houses rentable through a trust and mostly crowded around the busy road. The 70% remaining houses, who are these for? Who will be able to buy them? What does this mean for the local community. 

Those of us who have attended the site consultation and planning committee meetings with SHDC and the planning officer have been greatly disturbed by the lack of real concern for community and environment. Our local authority needs some challenge to hold it to account. Is it not there to represent the interests of the local people and environment?

We have already achieved community relationships and cohesion. WE will have many community events upcoming. And hopefully we will challenge SHDC at court. 

Thanks for your support so far, and if you can help us get this over the line and further that would be great. Please pledge if you can or pass this to friends or others who may be able to contribute. And just come along and get involved. 

The Heart of Dartington Team

Update 5

'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

July 13, 2022

74% - Please help us reach the target before we hear the final verdict on the JR

Dear Supporters 

We have been going a bit slow recently with the funding. Maybe everyone is out enjoying the sunshine and getting into the summer. But nevertheless we have already had 48 pledges for £3,700 towards the target of £5k. We must reach that target or all the pledges are lost in one go. 

So we are 74% there, and need a further £1,300 to reach the target. At this point the pledges automatically go towards the solicitors and barrister who have been working on this case, and that will be a great relief to us all. 

There are  9 Days left to reach this target.

So what has been happening? Well the claim was sent originally and now South Hams District Council and Baker Estates have both responded to the claim. We don't think that their responses sufficiently counteract the claim made that the proper levels of expert consultation around heritage was sufficiently carried out at the Reserved Matters Committee meeting at SHDC. There was a very informal attitude around heritage reports at this final meeting and a lack of rigour at the Site Visit witness by the community. But a judge will be making this decision by 25th July. Our fingers are crossed...

But we want to put also the wider picture. This claim has brought the community together. There are very strong feelings within the Heart of Dartington about how land sales and planning applications and the planning process takes place. There are strong feelings of anger, and grief, but there is also apathy and hopeless locally. Alot of people feel worn out in challenging and stating objections and not feeling they are heard or are effective. And a few have felt heard. So this campaign is really also about bringing the community together to look after the heart of Dartington. In this respect it links strongly with other local iniatives such as Save Dartington, Don't Bury Dartington Under Concrete, and the Atmos Project. All of which seem to wish for something better for the local community. Indeed this creeping urbanisation and building on greenfield sites is taking place throughout the UK at this time. We are keen to concentrate on inspiring ideas for how the community can work together with Dartington, with the local authorities and even with developers for much higher standards and more inspired approaches to affordable housing and creating community. This is a big ASK, but also why not make it. We would welcome coming together with other local campaigns and finding the common ground in raising the bar for the area.

So we are setting up a bunch of inspiring local events under the heading of 'Something Wonderful in My Backyard'. Open garden events, Poetry with Matt Harvey, music from Skidaddle Jazz Ensemble, a BioBlitz, Apple Pressing, and Children's Permaculture Design event (this coming weekend at Meadowbrooks). Please look out for leafets and join our facebook page or instagram - Heart of Dartington.

What can you do to help now?

If you have any means to pledge more. That would be fantastic

If you can't pledge more but want to support in any way then please write to our team at

Also you can write comments in our FB and Instagram posts and forward these to friends and people who maybe be able to contribute. Help us widen the scope of this campaign and bring in more energy. We know there are many people who feel connected to the Heart of Dartington and have been inspired by the area..


Mark O'Connell

Facebook -

Instagram: @heartofdartington

Update 4

'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

July 7, 2022

You've helped us raise £3,445 to challenging SHDC and BE to high standards

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your pledge. We now only have 15 days left to raise the remaining target for the case to challenge South Hams District Council and Baker Estates.  Also to send a message to Dartington Trust that we wish for more accountability to the community in selling off land. We want more accountable and inspired approaches to the land and more relationship with the community.  We are triggering this through a claim for a Judicial Review from a member of the community who we wish to support.

We can't do it without your help!

It would be amazing if you could:

  • Send this email to anyone you think might support our case, and
  • Share our link on Facebook:
  • If you use social media then please join the conversation at the NEW and PUBLIC Heart of Dartington Facebook group. or instagram page @heartofdartington . Liking, sharing and commenting on these pages builds the interest and conversation.
  • If you don't do social media, then please talk with your neighbours and come to events. We would love to see you.

Best wishes,

Mark O'Connell from the Heart of Dartington

Update 3

'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

June 28, 2022

Huge gratitude for your support for 'Heart of Dartington'

Dear supporters 

Within less than a week of setting up the crowdjustice funder there have been 33 pledges and £2,360 raised. There are 24 days to go. We hope to hit the baselie target of £5k within another week and then we need to keep raising funds in order to get this the proper attention it deserves. 

Please rest assured that your pledges go straight to paying for the legals services to move this case towards Judicial review. 

Also to let you know that this campaign is generating wonderful community interactions and many of us are getting to know one another better, which is great. 

In the meantime there will be events and much conversation online if you are partial to social media at all (some of us arent). 

Please join the conversation at the NEW and PUBLIC Heart of Dartington Facebook group.

#heartofdartington challenging South Hams District Council Planning decision by Judicial Review (we hope), and having a community conversation about the Heart of Dartington

Also if you are more of a visual person do follow us on:
@heartofdartington (instagram)

The website:

(Image: H Jacoby)

Thankyou from the Heart of Dartington Team

Update 2

'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

June 25, 2022

The Heart of Dartington is being ransacked and it's getting worse

We wish to thank everyone for the great support coming in. And incredible conversations in the local community about how people were inspired by Dartington to live here in the first place, and concerns that the Heart of Dartington is being ransacked by poor consultation and planning process. Consider development over the last 50 years. Consider the difference in design and buildings from 50 years ago until now.... We think there is worsening trend ... 

Sherwood Close in Staverton - Read about 'Sustainable Staverton' - This close is nestled more sensitively in the heart of Staverton.

Hunters Moon in Dartington - Hunters Moon was designed by Dartington Trust founders the Elmhirst and the houses have shared play and community spaces. Community composing continues to happen. HM residents challenged Dartington Trust to give them charge of the land. 

Cavanna Homes have now built in the heart of dartington 

And now Broom Park/ St Marys development by Baker Estates in the Heart of Dartington - use your imagination on this one...

If you would like to help us in any other way or receive a newsletter please let us know at.

Update 1

'Heart of Dartington' - Community Group

June 24, 2022

Your support so far has been amazing £1530 in one day

Thankyou at this early stage of the campaign and raising of funds for your quick support. To help us further can you let people you know and think may be supportive know what we are working on. 

To protect the Heart of Dartington, by challenging the poor planning processes by South Hams District Council, and then to push for much improved plans that would lead to better outcomes for people and the environment. This is the plan as it stands. There are many concerns about how the public and experts have been, or not been properly consulted.

Please help us by donating via our CrowdJustice fundraiser - @heartofdartington (instagram)

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