Town council threatened with legal action over controversial fence
PUBLISHED: 11:46 04 October 2018
A legal row has erupted following an activist group's threat to take a town council to court over access to land in Lowestoft.
Protect Our North Denes Association (PONDA) sent a letter to Lowestoft Town Council (LTC) stating legal action would be taken unless a fence around part of the land, erected by Tingdene caravan park more than two years ago, was taken down before October 11.
It claims the fence is in breach of historic covenants which sets out that the land between Links Road and the caravan park should only be used as a public recreation ground, with no more than a caretaker’s cottage, bandstand and toilets permitted to be built.
Jim Gwyther, PONDA member, said: “The land has effectively gone from public ownership to private ownership and nobody has got any benefit from it.
“We want to protect and preserve it for future generations. It is a matter of principle about the way the previous council dealt with it.”
LTC, however, said former landlords Waveney District Council (WDC) were responsible for failing to resolve the issues surrounding the North Denes before it handed them over when LTC came into existence in 2017.
A spokesman said the council was not “not hugely happy” with WDC and said the legal issues had cost the council money it did not have. The spokesman added that it is consulting lawyers about the letter.
The spokesman said: “We are not hugely happy that this matter was not resolved before this land was passed to the town council considering the original contracts were between Tingdene and WDC and this has been an ongoing issue that has been going on for some time and if there are any costs they will now fall on LTC.”
Waveney District Council said: “The fence was initially erected as a temporary solution and was permitted without planning consent.
“Subsequently a range of assets, including North Denes, were handed to the new Lowestoft Town Council and the matter became their responsibility.
“On that basis, it would not be appropriate to comment further on what is essentially a matter between the town council and its tenant, Tingdene.”
Paul Spriggins, director of Tingdene North Denes Limited, said the legal action is “misguided”.
He said: “The threat of legal action against our new landlord Lowestoft Town Council at our North Denes Caravan Park is misguided. The land in question forms part of a 99 year agreement that was entered between Tingdene North Denes Ltd and Waveney District Council.
“Any threat of legal action by a third party should be directed towards Tingdene North Denes Ltd and not our new landlord Lowestoft Town Council.”
He added: “We have continued to liaise with the council in relation to the safety fencing that is erected. We have confirmed that the safety fencing will be fully removed once the development process is completed.
“Whilst the land has been used for many decades in breach of the historic covenants, there has been no attempt to restrict public access. This position will continue”.