Legal bombshell hits Campsfield expansion plan

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate use     18 February 2015

Cherwell Planning Committee meet on Thursday 19 February to decide on the Home Office/Ministry of Justice application to double the size of Campsfield immigration detention centre near Kidlington.

Today, lawyers for campaigners objecting to the plan have written to the Council. In their opinion, the report of the Planning Officer which recommends approval of the application, is wrong in law and ‘the Developer simply and clearly fails to discharge its burden of proof.’

The 7-page letter dated 17 February 2015 was sent to the Chief Executive and the reporting Planning Officer of Cherwell District Council by London solicitors Leigh Day. Leigh Day are acting on behalf of Stop Campsfield Expansion, a local group of concerned individuals and organisations, which includes Asylum Welcome and the Campaign to Close Campsfield.

At the heart of the letter is the failure by the applicants, in the view of the solicitors, to establish that there is a clear need for expansion. The letter states:

‘For the reasons set out below, the approach in the OCR [Officer’s Committee Report, which recommends approval of the application] is plainly wrong in law.

‘Further, it is clear to us that on the information before the Council, this application should be refused. It is for the Developer to satisfy the Council that very special circumstances to justify this inappropriate development in the greenbelt are established.   The information before the Council completely fails to do this.

‘Put shortly, the Developer simply and clearly fails to discharge its burden of proof.’

Bill MacKeith of the Campaign to Close Campfield said: ‘The question now is, will the councillors have the sense to reject the advice given by their planning officer, and reject the application. Of course, we hope that they will.’

Contacts:
Campaign to Close Campsfield: Bill 01865 558145, Liz 07791 738 577, Tim 07721 771 835 Gill 01993 703994

Leigh Day: David Standard, Head of Media Relations 01949 850246  or  07540 332717, dstandard@leighday.co.uk

There will be a peaceful lobby (‘Say NO to the Government’s plan to double the size of Campsfield’) of Cherwell District Council Planning Committee, on Thursday 19th February 2015, Assemble 3:15pm Council Offices, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury OX15 4AA. Called by Oxford & District Trades Union Council.

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