Planning and Housing

05.03.19

Developer drops £10m legal case against Northumberland County Council over housing proposals

 

A £10m High Court legal challenge against Northumberland County Council and three of its leaders over delayed plans for 2,000 homes has now been dropped.

An arms-length body of the developers Lugano Property Group issued a writ in September claiming in July it would be hit with delayed project bills of £13m in the construction of the Dissington Garden Village.

The Labour plans to create 2,000 homes on the site north of Ponteland were put under review after the Conservatives took over in the last local elections in 2017, with Lugano alleging that the authority acted unlawfully.

The county council denied the allegations, labelling them as “inappropriate, untrue, and defamatory,” and the developer launched legal proceedings against the council’s leader Peter Jackson, cabinet member for planning John Riddle, and chief executive Daljit Lally.

Six months on from the writ being issued, the legal challenge has now been discontinued by the developers.

Councillor Jackson called it the “most humiliating admission of defeat” and called for a public apology.

Jackson said: “All along we said that there was no foundation for their wild and unsubstantiated allegations against councillors, council staff and the county council itself, all of whom have just been carrying out their proper functions.

“The particularly vitriolic statements from the Lugano directors, Allan Rankin and Richard Robson, have been shown to be indefensible and without foundation. They should publicly apologise without delay.

“This has been a long saga which has concerned many in the local community.

“They will be delighted that the planning system in Northumberland has been shown to be both robust and fair, not bending to the demands of the large developers, treating all applications according to clear criteria without fear or favour.”

The council leader also said the authority would be pursuing Lugano Dissington Estate Ltd for “very substantial legal costs.”

The Newcastle-based Lugano Property Group, which owned the claimant at the time of the legal action, said that despite not being involved in the decision to discontinue the challenge it “stands fully behind the claims made in both the legal proceedings and our previous complaints to the council.”

The notice of discontinuance was signed by Simon Conway, the director of Lugano Dissington Estate, but it is also reported that the company is no longer owned by Lugano Property Group.

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