LEGAL PROCEEDINGS BEGUN AGAINST CANTERBURY CITY COUNCIL OVER MIS-SELLING OF WHITSTABLE LAND
Campaigners in Whitstable have formally begun legal proceedings against Canterbury City Council over their mis-selling of a prime piece of much-valued town centre, sea front land.
An application for a Judicial Review of Canterbury City Council’s decision to enter into a contract for sale, subject to planning permission, of the land known as the Oval, at Sea Wall, Whitstable was lodged on Wednesday 17th February in the Administrative Court, within the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in London. A judge is requested both to declare that the Oval is legal open space and to quash the sale contract.
There are five grounds for this Judicial Review
- Failure to comply with the legal requirements for the disposal of open space land.
- Entering into a contract that failed to fully accord with the expressed instruction of the council’s executive committee.
- Excessive secrecy of the resolution-making meeting.
- Failure to obtain best value for the land sold.
- Breach of the public sector equality duty in regard to disabled access to the site.
Angela Boddy, the Chair of the Whitstable Society, said: “Together with The Oval Chalet Preservation Community Group (OCPCG), we have tried to sort this out with the Council, but to no avail. We have had no alternative but to ask the court to intervene.”
Campaigners also gave an initial comment on new planning application from Sea Street Developments Ltd. published on February 18th.
Suzanne Blaustone of the OCPCG said: “The developer promised extensive on-site public open space to the Council’s Executive meeting in Dec 2014, when the sale was authorised by councillors. But the developer then removed it all by the time of the developer’s public exhibition in May 2015. The Developer has not formally met with either of the campaigning groups to discuss the revised plans since they exhibited them and we submitted our objections. The new scheme published on Feb 18th offers only a small fraction of the usable public open space that was shown to those decision-making councillors (‘the Piazza scheme’) and still falls well short of the written promise to the Executive by the Council’s Estates Department in Oct 2014 that the open space would equal 90% of the Oval site.”
The WS Chair advised: “The council’s head of legal services, Sarah Bowman, told councillors last week that she is likely to spend over £20,000 on barrister fees to fight our claim, so nobody should assume we will win our case quickly or easily. Therefore, we urge the public to examine the new planning application for the site (CA//16/00375) and to send their views to the council’s Planning Department before the Friday 18th March deadline”.
A fuller statement from the Campaign on the new planning application will be released late next week after the Whitstable Society and the Oval Chalet Preservation Community Group have had the opportunity to examine the plans closely.
Footnote: The Claim and witness statements can be accessed at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yfs02wpjuauhewn/AACG606q2qa-rC5Ki-kMW_mRa?dl=0 .
The planning policies covering the Oval and the Tile Warehouse combined site can be found under Tab 1, page 35, where they are detailed for the judge.
For further information about this press release, contact Graham Cox 01233 645520 / 077110 79369 from Feb 22nd, or firstname.lastname@example.org before then.