Save Foxhill

by Foxhill Residents Association

Save Foxhill

by Foxhill Residents Association
Foxhill Residents Association
Case Owner
FRA formed in August 2015 as a response to the fears and concerns of residents about plans for the unnecessary destruction of the homes and the community of the Foxhill Estate.
Funded
on 17th January 2018
£5,352
pledged of £8,000 stretch target from 177 pledges
Foxhill Residents Association
Case Owner
FRA formed in August 2015 as a response to the fears and concerns of residents about plans for the unnecessary destruction of the homes and the community of the Foxhill Estate.

Latest: July 16, 2018

We won!

The JR was heard in Bristol on the 16th and 17th of May. The decision in favour of residents was announced on June 20th; Mr Justice Leigh stated that the planning permission granted was unlawful be...

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Foxhill Residents Association (“FRA”) is fundraising to cover the costs of a potential legal challenge to the decision by Bath & North Somerset Council to demolish the heart of Foxhill housing estate where over 2000 people live.  

Ignoring the objections of local people and housing and design experts, on 30 November 2017, the Council granted outline planning permission for the developer, Curo Places Ltd, to redevelop the estate wholescale.

The plans will mean the complete demolition of 542 homes. These will be replaced by up to 700 new homes, but only 30% of these will be affordable. This means that over 200 social-rented homes will be lost in the new development. Worse still, the decision will result in the social displacement of the existing community. In the process the existing green infrastructure will be destroyed.

This case is about protecting social housing and about planning for a sustainable future of Bath which takes account of all its residents regardless of their background.

FRA has been advised by its lawyers, from Leigh Day and Francis Taylor Building, that there are strong grounds for a challenge in relation to whether the Council has:

  • failed to properly consider the impact on persons with protected characteristics;
  • misinterpreted its own policy on redevelopment of housing estates; and 
  • omitted to take into account the relevant considerations of whether: 
    • (a) the development would be acceptable if it was not possible to rehouse residents in nearby Mulberry Park; or 
    • (b) the planning permission granted for Mulberry Park would be undermined as it would no longer provide additional social housing. 

Of the 542 homes that Curo have been granted permission to redevelop 95 are owned by residents who purchased them under right to buy legislation. These homeowners are now living in limbo, they are unable to sell their properties as they are blighted by the decision to grant planning permission, neither can they have confidence to improve and upgrade their homes. If homeowners are compelled to sell by the issuing of compulsory purchase orders they will be over £100k short of buying a home in the new development and will therefore be forced to either move away or to exchange their home for a part share in a property with far inferior gardens.

Our legal team are confident of the strength of our case but we need to be prepared for every eventuality; therefore FRA aims to raise a minimum of £3,000 in order to proceed. 

The money in the first instance will go towards the Council's costs and court fees. Then the stretch target will cover the whole amount of those two costs first, plus the legal team's costs when that amount has been reached.

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Update 5

Foxhill Residents Association

July 16, 2018

We won!

The JR was heard in Bristol on the 16th and 17th of May. The decision in favour of residents was announced on June 20th; Mr Justice Leigh stated that the planning permission granted was unlawful because the council had not done enough to consider how the plans would affect the more vulnerable residents, as required by the Equality Act 2010.

Sarah Sackman our Barrister said: “This case concerns the value of social housing and respect for existing communities. The result has implications not just for Bath but for estate redevelopment across the country. It’s a reminder from the courts that local authorities have to take seriously their legal obligations to confront the impacts on vulnerable people of their planning decisions.”

Bath and North East Somerset Council planning department issued a notice that the planning permission has been quashed on 5th July 2018 almost a year after the decision to grant planning had been given the go ahead.

Thank you to everyone who made this case possible, all monies raised will go to our legal team who entered into this case knowing that they could potentially be giving their services for almost no financial reward. BaNES council have been ordered to pay costs which were capped in order to protect Foxhill Residents from financial risk the £14,000 awarded is therefore well below the rate our team could have demanded.

Update 4

Foxhill Residents Association

June 10, 2018

June Update

This case is important because it looks at how people who live in designated regeneration areas are consulted and listened to.

On May 17th the Judicial Review hearing bought by Foxhill Residents Association (FRA) challenging Bath and North East Somerset Council’s (BaNES) decision to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of Foxhill Estate and the demolition of 542 homes reached an end.  Mr Justice Lewis said "I’ve just got to go away now and weigh up what’s been said.  “I don’t know who’s going to win or lose."  He made it clear he would be deciding the legality of the planning decision based on one key issue: "Did the council do enough to look at the disruption flowing from the outline plans when they made the decision to grant the planning application?" 

FRA are pleased to have been able to pursue this case which was made possible by representation provided by Sarah Sackman and Rowan Smith of Leigh Day.  In order to minimise risk of financial burden to FRA a request was made and accepted for a cap to be put on costs. This means that even in the event of the best possible scenario of residents winning the case and the planning permission being quashed; the legal team will have voluntarily relinquished 60% of the costs that they would have otherwise been awarded. In the event of BaNES council winning the case the funds raised so far will cover costs but leave very little to pay Sarah and Rowan for the tremendous amount of time and energy that they have dedicated to this case.

FRA would therefore be delighted to accept more funds to enable Leigh Day to continue their work in providing support to people and organisations who would otherwise struggle to get legal representation.  Thank you to those of you who have already donated, it would help our cause enormously if you share this page.

Thank you.

Update 3

Foxhill Residents Association

May 1, 2018

Foxhill – Judicial Review update

A week after we got permission from the High Court for our Judicial Review Curo announced its dramatic u-turn and said that instead of demolishing 542 homes on Foxhill Estate it would refurbish those homes. Our case has already made a big difference.

But despite residents writing to Curo asking them for a legally binding promise not to implement the planning permission and asking Bath Council to quash the permission neither have been willing to agree to these requests. This means that unless we continue with the Judicial Review to quash the planning permission that the threat of redevelopment will continue to hang over the estate.

Our solicitor Rowan Smith at Leigh Day and our barristers Sarah Sackman and Katherine Barnes from Francis Taylor Building have worked tirelessly on behalf of Foxhill Residents. We need to raise more money to enable them to bring this case and to to continue to fight for the rights of the most vulnerable people in society.

You can join us in court in Bristol on Wednesday 16th May. The Law Courts, Small Street, Bristol BS1 1DA. Proceedings usually begin at 10.30am, anyone may attend as an observer and FRA would be encouraged to see some of our supporters in the public gallery.

As a reminder, Foxhill residents are resisting the plans to demolish our estate and rebuild it with the loss of over 200 council homes. This will result in the disruption of people’s lives and the displacement of families who have lived on the estate for decades.

FRA believe the Council’s Decision to be unlawful for the following reasons:

(a) There was no Equality Impact Assessment of the Decision or any consideration whatsoever of the impacts of the scheme on elderly or disabled persons, on women, children and BAME people;

(b) The decision was predicated on the understanding that all existing residents could be rehoused following the redevelopment in the immediate area of Foxhill and Mulberry Park. However, this is not in fact the case. No assistance will be given to those FE residents with tenancies granted after 2013 or to owner occupiers.

(c) The council failed to take into account the consideration that by committing to rehouse displaced Foxhill residents at Mulberry Park, the new affordable housing units in MP would no longer provide additional affordable homes for Bath which was the reason for permitting the Mulberry Park scheme;

(d) The Council has adopted a flawed approach to viability meaning more council houses will be lost. 

Update 2

Foxhill Residents Association

March 2, 2018

Update

Dear Supporters

The action in recent days has been fast paced, permission has been granted for a Judicial Review and the developer has responded by dramatically changing their approach to regeneration, promising not to demolish any homes in Foxhill.  We await BaNES Council’s response to the Judicial Review, they have an option not to contest our action in which case no further funding would be necessary.  This page remains open until the case reaches a conclusion.

Permission Granted in Affordable Housing Judicial Review

Wednesday, 21 February, 2018

Mrs Justice Lang has granted leave for a Judicial Review by the Foxhill Residents Association challenging the decision of Bath and North East Somerset Council to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of Foxhill Estate in Bath and the provision of 700 new dwellings. The proposal will result in the complete demolition of the existing estate of 542 dwellings and the net loss of 204 units of social housing. 

The judge granted permission on all of the Claimant’s grounds namely that the Council: 

1. failed to discharge the public sector equality duty;

2. misdirected itself that all existing residents could be rehoused in an adjoining development at Mulberry Park in circumstances where this commitment has not been secured by way of a planning condition or s.106 obligation;

3. failed to take into account the fact that by rehousing displaced Foxhill residents in the adjoining Mulberry Park development, that new development would no longer be providing additional affordable housing which was the basis on which the permission for that development had been granted;

4. misinterpreted the term "viability considerations" in its development plan and/or applied it in an irrational manner.

Sarah Sackman and Katherine Barnes act for the Claimant instructed by Leigh Day.

Statement from Curo

“We have reluctantly taken the difficult decision to change our approach to regeneration at Foxhill.  We will no longer consider demolition of homes on the Foxhill estate, either privately owned or belonging to Curo. Instead, we will work in partnership with local residents to create a new plan focussed on significant investment in the refurbishment of existing Curo-owned homes over the next few years.  This will help give certainty to residents and deliver improvement to homes in Foxhill more quickly.”

 

Update 1

Foxhill Residents Association

Jan. 26, 2018

Update

Thank you to all our wonderful supporters who pledged enough money to meet our initial target within a week.  The money raised will allow us to meet our potential predicted costs in launching this case.

The page remains open while we wait for the High Court to decide whether to grant a Judicial Review.  Our legal team are of the opinion that this is an important and worthwhile case and are confident of a successful outcome.  A cap on costs has been requested which if granted will limit potential expenses.

This page will be updated again as soon as the High Court reaches a decision about granting a judicial review and makes a decision about the requested cost cap.

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