Axminster council abandons homes plan legal challenge

Barrister advises members there is no guarantee they would win a Judicial Review

AXMINSTER Town Council has abandoned its legal challenge to the granting of permission for up to 400 homes at Cloakham Lawns.

Members agreed not to proceed with their action against the planning authority at a special meeting last night (Monday), after being told they might not win the case.

The decision was made in private session. Afterwards town clerk Hilary Kirkcaldie issued the following statement: “Axminster town council was advised by its barrister that although there were grounds for seeking a Judicial Review of the decision making process by East Devon District Council relating to planning application 10/0816/MOUT, these grounds were not sufficiently sound to constitute a cast-iron case.

“In the light of this advice, Axminster town council resolved not to pursue this matter any further on an independent basis.

“Axminster town councillors considered the suggestion made in the May meeting that it might be possible to take legal action via a conditional fee arrangement - sometimes referred to as a no-win-no–fee action - with the possibility of a protective costs order. It was considered that the same risks were involved and that despite the apparent attraction of these terms there were costs which would be incurred which would not be justified.

“Axminster town councillors considered the possibility of joining forces with another group and the financial and other implications of so doing. It was resolved that in taking such an action the town council would not be seen to be acting with sufficient independence.”