Council could pay £3,500 to ‘kill off’ developer’s plans

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A PARISH council has unanimously resolved to pay up to £3,500 in an effort to kill off a controversial planning application.

Lakenheath Parish Council believes there may be a legal loophole which will nullify two applications to develop the Lakenheath Hall site on Hall Lane.

The applications by RPS Planning on behalf of Lakenheath Hall Estates were submitted to Forest Heath District Council in late 2009.

Since then, Lakenheath Hall Estates has been fined £1,950 for breaching conditions on the application and all construction has been stopped at the site.

At an extraordinary meeting of the council on Monday, chairman David Gathercole told councillors that the absence of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) could affect the application.

“Forest Heath didn’t carry out an EIA,” he said.

“Because it wasn’t carried out, the planning application would appear to be null and void.”

Mr Gathercole said someone from a solicitors had already been out to view the site.

The two-and-a-half hour visit and a look at relevant documents will cost the council £400.

Further advice from a barrister could cost up to £3,500.

Cllr Edward Morley said the application was ‘unlawful and unauthorised’.

“There should be no case at all of tidying round the edges – we should put an end to that project for good,” he said.

But clerk Marilyn Banks said that a judicial review might be necessary.

A decision is yet to be made on the part-retrospective application by Lakenheath Hall Estates.

Approval would allow contractors to resume work on the site which councillors had previously called an ‘eyesore’.

Permission was granted in 2004 to convert the 17th century hall into three homes and to build a further 15 properties on the grounds.

In April 2009, six enforcement notices were issued to the contractors demanding the removal of illegally parked vehicles and fencing.

That followed a notice from the previous year to halt all work over fears that the developers were not complying with the conditions of their planning permission.

The council plans to approach the Local Government Ombudsman over the lack of enforcement at the site.