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Footpaths are 'no bar to selling land'

PUBLISHED: 09:55 29 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:29 06 July 2010

COUNCIL bosses insist the official recognition of footpaths across a swathe of seafront land in Lowestoft will not stop it being sold to a private caravan park operator.

COUNCIL bosses insist the official recognition of footpaths across a swathe of seafront land in Lowestoft will not stop it being sold to a private caravan park operator.

The statement from Waveney District Council came in response to a leading campaigner's claims that the North Denes site will now never be sold after a deal with a leading holiday firm fell through.

Wealthy businessman Mervyn Lambert has bankrolled legal challenges to the council's bid to sell the site on a 99-year lease, claiming it is publicly-owned and has been used by the people of Lowestoft for many years.

Several footpaths across the North Denes site are set to be formally recognised by Suffolk County Council on maps following an application by the Protect Our North Denes Association (Ponda) and Mr Lambert called on the council to admit defeat.

Waveney has been forced to spend about £400,000 on legal fees to fight the legal challenges to its plans.

Mr Lambert said: “The site will never be developed. Why don't they come clean and stop all this nonsense. They keep blindly going on and I told them years ago to stop wasting public money.”

The council previously ran a caravan park at North Denes, but said it could no longer afford to operate it and thought it had secured a deal to sell the site to Park Holidays for £1.5m.

However, earlier this month, the company, which had revealed plans to open at £4.5m holiday park at the North Denes, pulled out of the deal, saying it needed to invest the money in expanding its current sites.

A spokesman for Ponda said: “Suffolk County Council has said that it will probably take a little while for the footpaths to be put on a definitive map, but Waveney District Council has said it does not have any problems with the application.

“Ponda has never been against the caravan site; we were against the council selling it on a long-term lease and the fact there would be no rights of way for the public.”

A district council spokesman said: “Any suggestion that the project will not happen is pure mischief-making and although Waveney and Park Holidays are disappointed not to be proceeding with their partnership, we are confident of securing a deal with another, equally outstanding, provider.

“Additionally, the footpath issue has no relevance to the caravan site whatsoever. We have always said that access through the site would remain, which is why we currently envisage no issues around this application before or after the caravan site is opened.”

The spokesman added: “The issue of legal fees has been well documented previously and is subject to an independent audit.

“Most critically, Waveney remains committed to developing the site and regenerating a neglected part of town, introducing jobs and prosperity to Lowestoft at a most opportune time.”

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