Friday brief: Under pressure council facing a second unrelated legal challenge
The authority has received two pre-action legal letters in under a week
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The West unitary authority is facing legal action over its handling of a planning application for a warehouse development in Towcester.
NN Journal has previously reported on concerns by local campaign group Save Towcester Now about four proposed major developments in the town. The possible legal challenge relates to an application from IM Properties at Tiffield Lane.
Lawyers instructed by the group have now written to the local authority setting out grounds for a possible judicial review into a decision by the council’s Strategic Planning Committee to grant planning permission.
This is the second pre-action legal letter the authority has received in a matter of days with another being sent earlier this week in relation to the sale of land at Sixfields.
The Towcester planning letter (seen by NN Journal) says:
“This letter has been drafted following the resolution made by the Strategic Planning Committee (“SPC”) of West Northamptonshire Council (“the Council”) on 27 January 2022 to delegate to the assistant director for growth, climate and regeneration to grant planning permission for proposed development at Tiffield Lane, App. Ref. S/2020/1644/EIA (“the Proposed Development”).
“The Council’s website indicates that the application was determined on 4 March 2022, but no decision notice has been published and this letter proceeds on the assumption that the determination in accordance with the SPC resolution is yet to be made.”
A key argument in the 19 page letter is that the cumulative impact of all four proposed developments has not been adequately considered.
The law firm Leigh Day has given the council until April 1st to respond.
News in brief
A march and protest against the proposed cuts to Pen Green Centre in Corby is being held on Tuesday ahead of the council’s executive making a final decision at Corby Cube at 10am. The centre, which was the country’s first sure start centre and has battled cuts for the past decade, stands to lose several hundreds of thousands of pounds from its budget, as the council seeks to reorganise funding and give more to the other three maintained nurseries in the area, Ronald Tree in Kettering and the Croyland and Highfield Nurseries in Wellingborough.
The extra funding for the other nurseries would be a lifeline, as two are in deficit and the third has no available funds left in the bank. A report published ahead of the meeting has not given an indication of what decision the Conservative-led authority will take.
West Northamptonshire Council has admitted that it was aware that a decision to sell land to Northampton Town Football Club could result in a legal challenge.
The authority turned down an offer of £3m from company Cilldara to buy the 22 acre site next to the Cobblers ground, instead taking the lesser £2m offer from the club, which had been upped from £890,000 after Cilldara’s counter bid.
The £3m bid (exclusively revealed by NN Journal) was not even referenced by the authority at the special meeting it held to decide the deal and now following a legal letter from Cilldara the unitary, which is led by Jonathan Nunn, says the challenge was expected. An issued statement said: “Throughout the process we have obtained legal advice from a QC on the approach we have taken and were aware of the contentiousness of the decision and therefore likelihood of challenge. We are sending a preliminary response to this letter in response to their requests for information.”
On Wednesday chairman Kelvin Thomas held a press conference and said fans will be asked at an event on March 30 what they want the site to be developed for.
A mass slow hand clap was staged across the county yesterday in protest at the government’s three per cent pay rise for NHS staff.
Northamptonshire Needs to Work, a community-led campaign group, recorded a series of ‘slow clap for carers’ videos to coincides with the two-year anniversary of ‘clap for carers’ which started at the end of March 2020 in the early days of the pandemic when the country took to its doorsteps to show appreciation for NHS staff and carers.
Unison has backed the action and East Midlands regional organiser Cathy Symes said: “Low pay and poor working conditions have resulted in services being unable to recruit or retain the staff they need. In 2020, we stood on our doorsteps to show our gratitude to carers and now they need our support.
“Care services across Northamptonshire are in crisis. Over the winter, services across the county were forced to declare a critical incident due to staffing shortages. We cannot be in the same position next winter.”
South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom highlighted the lack of justice for Harry Dunn’s family in parliament this week on what would have been his 21s birthday.
The teenager died in August 2019 after his motorbike was hit by American Anne Sacoolas who was driving on the wrong side of the road close to RAF Croughton. Sacoolas flew back to the US under diplomatic immunity and the country has refused to extradite her to face trial for Harry’s death.
The MP asked justice secretary Dominic Raab what was being done by the government to deliver justice for the family and he said he wholeheartedly supports foreign secretary Liz Truss’s ongoing efforts to secure a virtual trial.
Independent of the week
Northampton based Bookishly is one of 30 businesses taking part in a national trial to discover the effectiveness of a four day working week. The company, which was founded by Louise Verity over a decade ago, will close on Wednesdays in April as part of a project led by 4 Day Week Global in association with Oxbridge researchers.
Louise, who employs a team of ten, says “All the research out there so far looks really positive and I think that this will be the future of work. I’m glad that we can be involved in the research paving the way for more companies to take this on.”
Bookishly produces literary inspired products. Check out their wares here.
🌷 A Spring Shindig is happening tomorrow from 11am to 3pm at Corby Cube. The free family event involves music making and craft workshops.
📽There’s a networking event ahead of the Northampton Film Festival, at the V and B on Sunday from 5.30pm. More information here: http://www.northamptonfilmfestival.co.uk/events/
🎤The popular Bob Marley tribute act The Marley Experience is performing at the Picturedrome tonight. Tickets available here: https://www.seetickets.com/event/the-marley-experience/the-picturedrome/2125726
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