CAMPAIGNERS against building a city centre civic building are trying to raise £45,000 for a judicial review after collecting enough to lodge the application in just four days.

The City of Durham Parish Council has until Monday, May 13 to file papers applying for a judicial review of the decision to grant planning permission for Durham County Council’s proposed new headquarters.

Kier Property Developments was granted permission for the controversial £50m civic building, which it wants to build on the site of the Sands car park, in Durham city, in March.

The parish council intends to spend £4,000 from its budget and has raised a further £4,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to make the application.

It has set aside a total of £65,000 for legal fees associated with challenging the decision. 

The Northern Echo:

The proposed £50m civic centre, which Durham County Council wants to build on the site of the Sands car park

Chairwoman Elizabeth Scott said: "I think the response has shown us what we already knew, namely that the public continues to be against the scheme and will go to any lengths to stop the council from doing what it intends to do.

"We were quite surprised at the speed of hitting that £4,000 target."

With their total standing at about £5,300, the parish authority is continuing to raise money to cover the full cost of the review, setting its new target at £45,000.

Cllr Scott added: "I think from my perspective it's not about people putting in huge amounts. It's a step beyond simply signing a petition, saying I'm going to spend my own money on this.

"We had earmarked a budget to cover this but whatever we spend on a judicial review we can't spend on providing additional public services.

Richard Buxton Solicitors, which is acting on behalf of the parish council, has written to the county council setting out their case and asking for it to quash the planning permission.

Failing that, it will apply to the court for permission to apply for a judicial review, which if granted would mean a judge agrees that there is an arguable case to take forward.

Helen Lynch, Durham County Council’s head of legal and democratic services, said: “We can confirm we have received the parish council’s letter, to which we will be responding shortly.”

The parish council had previously applied for the decision to be "called in" by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to be considered by an independent planning inspector.

Almost 5,000 people had signed a petition for the decision to be called in but Secretary of State James Brokenshire was content for the application to be determined locally.

The plans for the civic building, which would provide a workspace for about 1,000 council officers, have been met with widespread opposition, with more than 1,000 people voicing concerns during the planning process.