FRANTIC efforts to find a way of overturning the government’s decision to allow 800 homes to be built on land near Anne Hathaway’s Cottage were gathering pace this week as a grass-roots “Save Shottery” campaign was launched.
While campaigners are urging the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to try to scupper the scheme by refusing to sell land that is vital for the development, Stratford District Council is to receive legal advice on the prospects of challenging the decision in the High Court.
The possibility of a legal challenge was given by planning minister Nick Boles last week as a reason for him not being able to discuss details of the Shottery decision during a special Commons debate secured by Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi.
Members of the district council’s regulatory committee were due to receive a leading barrister’s asessment of the likely success (or otherwise) of such a challenge at their meeting on Tuesday. But the lawyer’s meeting with the committee has now been postponed until Thursday.
The council has until 5th December to decide whether it has a strong enough case to risk the use of tax payers’ money to foot the bill for legal action in a last-ditch effort to stop the Shottery scheme from going ahead.
The “Save Shottery” campaign has been launched by husband-and-wife marketing consultants Mark and Debbie Griffiths, of Evesham Road, Stratford. They’ve warned that the Bbirthplace’s trustees are meeting on Saturday and that campaigners must urge them to vote against selling the trust’s land.
Mr Griffiths told the Herald: ““The immediate purpose of the Save Shottery social media campaign is to urge Stratford Birthplace Trust not to sell out to developers. We only launched our petition Sunday night and were approaching 100 signatures on Monday morning.”
He added: “If the trust sells its land to the developers, it will not only be a local shame, but a national disgrace and an international tragedy.”
But a spokeswoman for the trust said that although the trustees would be discussing the government’s decision on the Shottery scheme at their meeting on Saturday, they would definitely not be making a decision.
She said: “As the complex situation continues to develop, no date has been set for a decision about our next steps. All correspondence from the ‘Save Shottery’ campaigners and others is being passed on to trustees, and we are responding to all correspondents with a statement of our position. We remain highly disappointed by the Secretary of State’s decision.”
For a full report and further update see Thursday’s Herald.
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