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Fight against Mountfield Park development in Canterbury could go to Supreme Court

By Gerry Warren

Air quality campaigners say they will keep fighting to stop the 4,000-home Mountfield Park development south of Canterbury.

Despite losing a case against the Communities Secretary in both the High Court and Appeal Court, they are now fundraising to have it heard at the Supreme Court.

They say the minister "failed in his duty" by not calling in the planning application for the huge development for determination because of traffic pollution concerns.

An artist's impression of the proposed 4,000-home Mountfield Park scheme
An artist's impression of the proposed 4,000-home Mountfield Park scheme

The legal action is being led by environmentalists Emily Shirley and Michael Rundell, who have spent at least £15,000 on the case and have the support of a sympathetic barrister.

They argue the Court of Appeal’s decision "is not a rational conclusion and does not stand up to scrutiny".

Now they have launched the latest phase of their Crowdjustice campaign while waiting for permission to take it to the Supreme Court.

So far they have raised almost £500 of their £2,000 target.

Mrs Shirley said: “We believe we have strong grounds of appeal.

"The unlawful level of air pollution is now finally recognised as a national health emergency.

"She says a successful outcome for their could have nationwide significance for other schemes.

Clean air campaigners Emily Shirley and Michael Rundell
Clean air campaigners Emily Shirley and Michael Rundell

"A successful outcome for our case could have implications for planners and developers everywhere, making it a test case with nationwide significance."

She added: “The legal issue is whether the Secretary of State is responsible for ensuring that air quality levels meet legal limits as soon as possible, as he is legally required to do in accordance with the Air Quality Standard Regulations 2010 and case law.”

They are also challenging the city council’s planning decision in separate proceedings, which await the outcome of the case against the Secretary of State.

Because of the protracted legal battle, not a single brick has been laid since planning permission for the scheme was granted in 2016, and the council has yet to issue the formal approval notice.

Countering concerns that the legal challenges are denying families much-needed new homes, Mrs Shirley said: “I think it is much more important that people already living here are not breathing in dangerous air pollution.

“There is no point in just keep building more and houses if people are being poisoned.”

During the delays, the developer Corinthian Land says the company has taken the opportunity to enhance the scheme’s 'green credentials'.

It has just announced a £7.5 million project to supply every new home with an electric bike and improve cycle routes into the city, which it predicts could cut car journeys by 13%.

Read more: All the latest construction and housing news

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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