Solicitors acting on behalf of the City of Durham Parish Council have written to the County Council to say that, if it were to approve the planning application for a new HQ building on The Sands on the basis of information currently before it, that decision would be unlawful.
This is because the proposal to build the new HQ on The Sands is an integral part of the much larger proposals for Aykley Heads. The accompanying Environmental Statement should have covered all of this. In not doing so it is inadequate and fails to meet both European and National regulations.
The lawyers also add that the proposals do not meet either National or Local plan policies. The consideration of traffic and air quality impacts is inadequate. The alternatives have not been properly considered, and the Council does not have enough information on which it can properly reach a decision.
The Parish Council decided to oppose the proposals at a special meeting on 5 September and lodged its first objection. The Full Council meeting on 27 September discussed this application further and unanimously decided to seek professional legal advice as to whether there are any grounds on which this planning application for the proposed new County HQ could be challenged. The Parish Council commissioned an experienced and well-established law firm in Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law to provide the Council with legal advice.
“Our solicitors have advised that such grounds for challenge do indeed exist and set these out in a twelve page letter” explains Roger Cornwell, who chairs the Parish Planning Committee. “As the legal advice received also highlights that to determine the application at present would be unlawful, our Planning Committee decided unanimously on 4 January that the proper course of action was to submit this letter to the County Council. That was done later the same evening.”
The planning application is currently on hold, awaiting comments from the Environment Agency which has statutory responsibilities on flooding and air pollution issues.
In submitting this letter, the Parish Council hopes that Durham County Council will reconsider its proposals for the future location of its HQ and listen to the views of hundreds of residents from across the County and the many businesses who have submitted objections to this planning application.
A copy of the solicitors letter can be found here: