CONTROVERSIAL plans for the redevelopment of the disused police station site in the centre of Christchurch will be reconsidered by BCP Council.
The council had been threatened with legal action over the February decision of its planning committee to approve the redevelopment of the land, which includes the old magistrates’ court, between Barrack Road and Bargates by Aster Homes, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
And it has now agreed to reconsider its decision, based, it said, on its “own legal advice” and “additional information submitted” in recent months.
Although the application had been approved by councillors, final planning permission had still yet to be given with legal agreements not completed.
In May the council was served with a judicial review pre-action protocol letter by an unnamed party, which alleged the decision made by the committee was “unlawful”.
It said the council had not complied with biodiversity policies; that it had been incorrectly advised on the planned “ecological corridor” in the new development and the impact on its relationship with existing homes; and that it had “erred in law” by not considering minimum living space standards for the new homes.
The letter continued: “On the basis of the grounds set out… the claimant is entitled to seek a judicial review of the council’s decision which will require the entire permission to be quashed and the entire decision re-made,” the letter said. “This will cause the council to incur substantial extra costs.
“Even in the (unlikely) event that the claimant is not successful or not wholly successful, the cost protection measures available to a claimant in a judicial review of this type will mean that the council must bear substantial costs.”
A settlement meeting had been planned between the two parties but was cancelled shortly before it was due to take place with the council agreeing instead that the committee’s decision be revisited.
Following this, Aster Homes has submitted amended plans with the council confirming these would be put before the committee for a new decision to be made “on a date to be confirmed”.
A spokesman for the council said this had been done “in the light of its own legal advice”, sought since the legal threat was made.