CRAG, Congresbury Residents’ Action Group, has stopped its fight against the Wrington Lane footway scheme. Here, CRAG secretary Viv Tomkinson, explains why.
“After a long, increasingly frustrating and expensive fight, I have to tell you that CRAG has sadly had to decide to withdraw our challenge to the Wrington Lane footway scheme.
“We have been opposing this development for over 7 years. As most of you know, construction of the footway was necessary before the 50 houses could be built. CRAG has always maintained that the footway scheme could not be delivered without encroaching on private land.
“After years of trying to convince North Somerset Highways Department and the Planning Officers of the veracity of our claim, eventually even employing an ‘expert witness’ boundary surveyor and a specialist land and property disputes solicitor, but the NSC officers still obstinately claim that the footway can be delivered using only land that is part of the public highway and indeed they have again said this in their most recent response which we received in the last week.
“We believe they are wrong but we have decided, after deep thought and consideration, that we have to face the reality that we cannot stop the development
“We know that it would now cost North Somerset Council a great deal of money to stop Vistry.
“In order to make a legal challenge against NSC we would have had to instruct a barrister to take court action and this would have incurred fees costing tens of thousands of pounds.
“It would also put an unacceptable strain on the residents because NSC have in their latest response stated that it is the residents who would need to be named in any court action.
“So, it is now a question of damage limitation. We need to be sure that the outcome for the residents most directly affected by the delivery of the footway suffer minimal damage to their land, hedges, walls and lawns. Some residents will be losing hedges and the ends of their driveways. Residents are now in discussion with the contractors about what exactly will be done, and how it will be made good afterwards.
“CRAG owes a huge debt of gratitude to these residents, who have been under enormous pressure from the developers over recent years.
“We are also extremely grateful to all CRAG supporters who have submitted objections and supported our challenge to this development. And also for the donations from supporters and the support given by the Parish Council which helped us pay the legal costs and the costs of the boundary surveyor’s report to progress our challenge to NSC’s position.
“We do know that the impact will extend further than just the part of Wrington Lane required for the footway scheme and we understand the worries that all of you will have about how life will change in Wrington Lane after this development is completed.
“We also appreciate the upset caused to all those households affected by the developers’ frequent inconsiderate abuse of the conditions under which they were supposed to carry out the preparatory works on the site.
“CRAG blames North Somerset Council for the whole debacle. The previous administration should never have approved the planning application. Officers seem to have acted with no scrutiny from Councillors regarding our arguments, and have not enforced the site regulations about the construction process in spite of frequent complaints from residents. We intend to have all these issues investigated and are engaging with our local Councillor about this. We will be submitting a complaint to NSC and we will escalate our complaint to a higher level if this is necessary.
“We hope you understand why we have taken this decision, but please be assured that CRAG will continue the fight against other inappropriate development within our community.”