Durham County Council urged to make right call over Consett school site

First published in News
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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Derwentside & Tyneside)

A COUNCILLOR is urging a local authority to consider new evidence before pursuing plans to create an academy school on a controversial site.

Durham County Council wants to create the multi million pound development on the Belle Vue Site in Consett, but is caught in a long-running legal wrangle over an application to have the land registered as a village green.

Consett Green Spaces Group’s application is due before the Highways Committee on Monday for a second time.

A High Court judge ruled that planning inspector Edwin Simpson’s advice to refuse the initial application was flawed.

The committee has once again been advised to reject the application following a further report from Mr Simpson in light of the judicial review.

Meanwhile, Councillor Owen Temple has been to the National Archive in London to study historic records relating to the land.

He claims that when the land was originally bought the council’s original plans were only to build houses and use the site for pavements, footpaths and allotments, which mean the site could still acquire village green status.

Councillor Temple, who believes the academy and associated sports centre should go ahead on the former steelworks site said: “You would think that a council which had bungled the legal process last time, to the extent that a judge ordered it to reverse its decision and to pay the costs of the trial, would be doubly careful this time.”

The meeting is being held at County Hall on Monday and if it is rejected the development will be considered by planners on March 5.

Colette Longbottom, the council’s head of legal and democratic services, said: “Documentation received after the submissions deadline last week has been forwarded to the inspector for his consideration.”

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