PEOPLE living near a controversial Traveller site in East Wellow have threatened Test Valley council with a judicial review.

A letter, published on the borough council planning portal last Friday, revealed a group of local people are considering legal action.

It concerns the application, for three more pitches on land in Embley Lane, which was initially permitted by Test Valley Borough Council's southern area planning committee in June.

However, that approval is uncertain as the council has since confirmed that it will go back to the southern area planning committee at a future date. 

Felix Nolan and Tony Quinn applied for permission for the pitches to contain one mobile home, one utility dayroom and space for one touring caravan.

Local concerns were raised due to Test Valley Borough Council's policy stating that applicants for Traveller sites must have a local connection.

READ MORE: East Wellow Traveller site plans coming back to committee

Two letters have been published on the council's online planning portal, which still lists the application as 'current'.

One from legal practice Paris Smith on behalf of residents of Embley Lane in July went on the council website last Friday. 

It said: “This letter sets out the factual and legal basis on which any claim would be pursued. However, as no decision notice has yet been issued, it remains within the council’s power to take the application back to committee to reconsider the resolution to grant permission, in light of the legal errors identified below.

“If the council refuses to reverse its unlawful resolution to grant permission, our client will have no option but to bring judicial review proceedings challenging the grant of permission and to recover its costs of doing so from the council.

“This was a highly controversial application, which generated 39 letters of objection. 

“The committee narrowly resolved to grant permission by six votes to four.”

The second letter, dated September 6, is from Louise Cutts, director of Wessex Planning Ltd, who spoke on behalf of the Embley Lane residents at the planning committee in June. It also went online on October 6.

Ms Cutts said: “I confirmed at planning committee that the residents would be seeking to legally challenge any decision to approve this application. 

SEE ALSO: East Wellow Traveller site plans approved despite controversy

“Nonetheless, the planning committee resolved to approve the application subject to the receipt of the outstanding Natural England consultation response. Before the decision could be issued, however, the residents instructed their barrister to issue a pre-action protocol letter setting out the grounds on which their challenge to any final approval would be based. This allows the opportunity for the LPA to reassess both its officer recommendation and its final decision. The LPA have confirmed that this opportunity will be taken although no date has yet been set for the application to be re-presented to planning committee.

“There has been an abject failure to objectively gather publicly available information to ensure that applicants meet the planning definition of travellers in order to qualify as such under the PPTS.

“Wellow parish has the highest concentration of traveller, gypsy and showman sites in Test Valley borough. The initial planning officer report omitted to include 17 travelling showmen pitches in Gardeners Lane, thereby underplaying / misrepresenting to the councillors, the number of traveller and gypsy related sites already in the parish.”

Speaking at the June meeting, the applicants' agent Angus Murdoch said: “This has been developed in a methodical way. There are no outstanding objections from statutory consultees. 

“The applicants are bona fide Travellers. The proposal was designed sympathetically for the landscape. It meets the accommodation needs of the family.”

For more details about the plans, search 22/02694/FULLS on Test Valley Borough Council's online planning portal.