Call for judicial review into Wiveliscombe rehab hospital decision

This is The West Country: Bryn Wilson, chairman of Wiveliscombe Town Council. Bryn Wilson, chairman of Wiveliscombe Town Council.

CAMPAIGNERS against a controversial rehabilitation hospital on the outskirts of Wiveliscombe want a judicial review into the decision to give the facility the go-ahead.

The town council has started the process of a review after Taunton Deane’s planning committee granted CMS Developments’ proposals conditional approval.

A request under the Freedom of Information Act has also been made for full disclosure of documents and notes taken at the meeting.

The parish is unhappy plans to build a 28-bedroom locked rehabilitation unit and a 28-bedroom low secure hospital for female patients were given the thumbs-up, despite strong objections.

Bryn Wilson, town council chairman, said: “Our problem isn’t with the planning committee as they gave the decision on what was in front of them.

“The problem is with who produced the report. It failed to state the council strongly objected to the application and the reasons.

“We have started the process of a judicial review and have written to Taunton Deane.

“A lot of people in the area are very upset by it.”

In June, town councillors objected to the proposals at an extraordinary meeting which was attended by more than 100 people.

Prime concerns were over traffic, public safety, staffing and the lack of local jobs, with many feeling most of the 130 roles pledged by the developers will go to people living outside the town.

Despite this, Deane planners granted conditional approval in October but the County Gazette understands work will not start until an S106 agreement has been reached.

If so, it would kick-start the development of an 11-acre business park on the east side of town, south of the B3227.

Mr Wilson added: “As one of the units is C2 [residential], it could restrict the development of the business park and what can be built there.

“You can’t have noise and smells on there. You can’t have a brewery next to recovering alcoholics and you can’t have people working through the night when people are trying to sleep.”

Jason Aldred, director of CMS Developments, said the development could be huge for Wiveliscombe and allayed fears over public safety, insisting patients will be “vulnerable people not out to cause trouble”.

A spokesman for Taunton Deane Council said: “The council has already been notified in earlier correspondence of the parish’s views on the decision to grant planning permission and, having previously considered these views in detail, does not consider the decision to be flawed or susceptible to review.

“The council is now awaiting confirmation of the precise grounds for the challenge being pursued by the parish, and will be in a position to comment further once details of these grounds have been received.”

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