Search

Council to reconsider selling land

PUBLISHED: 12:03 04 February 2008 | UPDATED: 19:38 05 July 2010

A controversial decision to sell off a swathe of seafront land in Lowestoft is to be looked at again by councillors in a bid prevent taxpayers being hit by further huge legal bills.

A controversial decision to sell off a swathe of seafront land in Lowestoft is to be looked at again by councillors in a bid prevent taxpayers being hit by further huge legal bills.

Waveney District Council has announced that the authority's executive committee will scrutinise elements of a bid to sell the North Denes caravan site to a private operator following a legal challenge from protesters.

The council has already shelled out hundreds of thousands pounds of public money on solicitors' fees, but is facing the prospect of an expensive judicial review in the high court.

The Protect Our North Denes Association (Ponda) claim the site is public open space and that the council failed to consider objections or take into account Waveney's new open space strategy.

A letter sent from the council's solicitors, Eversheds, to the legal team representing the protesters says: “Our client does not accept that these matters can be successfully challenged.

“There is, however, an inherent delay and irrecoverable cost associated with such challenges and our client does not wish to delay this matter further or expend huge legal fees in defending any challenge.

“Our client has decided to adopt a pragmatic and abundantly cautious approach to this matter. The council will therefore take these matters back to members for further consideration.”

Waveney's executive committee is set to consider the issue on February 28, after which the council hopes to pave the way for the sale of a 99-year lease to a private operator, who will re-open the caravan park to the public.

While the council insists 33 acres of North Denes will be landscaped for public use, protesters point to reports highlighting a deficiency of public space in Lowestoft and say the entire site has been owned by taxpayers for many years.

Wealthy businessman Mervyn Lambert, who is bankrolling Ponda's challenge, said: “The council is running scared. The only way you can get openness and democracy from Waveney is by the threat of legal action.”

Waveney's legal bill covering its proposals to sell North Denes and the caravan park at Southwold has soared to more than £350,000.

A council spokesman said: “The council is satisfied that it is proceeding legally. These steps have merely been taken to ensure the potential for judicial review is minimised, which in turn could lead to anything up to a further 18-month delay. Any additional costs are a frustrating and unnecessary burden on taxpayers.”

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists