CAMPAIGNERS vow to take their case to the Supreme Court after their appeal was rejected by judges that Legoland’s holiday village would harm ancient trees.

Countryside charity Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Berkshire said they were “disappointed” by the Court of Appeal’s judgement in April 2021, which backed the theme park in building 450 residential units in Windsor Forest, a greenbelt site.

Despite the loss, CPRE said they want the Supreme Court, the most senior court in the UK, to grant permission for further appeal against the building of the holiday village in order to protect the veteran and ancient woodland.

Royal Borough councillors on the borough-wide development panel granted Legoland planning permission in 2018, despite officers recommending refusal due to the “intrusive” impact on the environment.

Outline of the resort

Outline of the resort

Councillors at that time concluded a ‘very special circumstance’ existed as the resort’s contribution to the local economy and tourism outweighed any harm to the green belt.

Planning officers granted planning permission 11 months after as developers were subject to 30 conditions and a section 106 agreement, which had to be approved by the council before work was conducted.

Following this decision, the chairman of CPRE at that time, John Hudson, sought to challenge the council’s decision via a judicial review at High Court, citing the council did not undertake an appropriate examination of development’s impact on the trees, which the Royal Borough accepted it failed to carry out.

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However, Mrs Justice Lang dismissed his challenge, saying an appropriate assessment would not have affected the grant of permission and there would be “no harm” to ancient and veteran trees.

CPRE Berkshire decided to go to the Court of Appeal, but the three appeal judges sitting rejected their case, saying the development would cause “no harm” to veteran trees and all relevant conditions, agreed between Legoland and the council, have been complied with.

Representing Mr Hudson, Marc Willers QC, submitted the council did not take into account the change in the national planning policy framework, which would “strengthen of the protection given to veteran trees,” in their decision-making.

Indicative plans of the cabins being built on green belt

Indicative plans of the cabins being built on green belt

Lord Justice Coulson, who was sitting with Ladies Justice King and Car, said a suggestive shift in planning policy would be “unfairly legalistic” and would’ve made “no difference”.

They upheld the High Court’s reason an assessment would not have made a difference to the council’s decision, which Lord Justice Coulson criticised Mr Hudson’s claims for focusing on the 2018 panel meeting where no challenge was formally submitted.

On the veteran trees, the judges say all the documents, which formed the planning decision, were published in the public domain as to why the council had concluded the mitigating measures would prevent any harm to those trees.

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Reacting to the judgement, Gloria Keene, MBE, CPRE Berkshire branch secretary said: “Every tree matters. Ancient woodlands are vital to tackle climate change.

“The environment and climate emergency shows that we need trees, woodlands, and forests more than ever.

“Trees, and especially mature trees, are important for sequestering carbon, meaning they trap carbon dioxide from the air as they grow, only releasing it when they die or are chopped down.

“The government knows this as its draft Environment Bill outlines measures to better protect our existing trees and woodland.”