Council defers decision on La Sagesse development
Campaigners were claiming a victory this evening after Newcastle City Council deferred its decision on a controversial planning application by Shepherd Offshore to develop the former La Sagesse school site in Jesmond into private homes.
The decision to defer, announced in an email from council chief legal officer John Softly on the eve of today’s scheduled planning committee meeting, follows legal arguments from Jesmond Action Group and others, supported by North Jesmond Lib Dem councillor Peter Breakey.
The Jesmond Action Group had raised concerns of procedural and other irregularities with the council’s legal department and asked that the application be deferred pending further enquiries and clarification.
Rex Winter, chair of the Jesmond Action Group, said: “If the Shepherd application had proceeded to the planning committee on Friday in its current form, the council would have committed a breach of its powers, and its duty to conduct a fair hearing. The application was flawed in a number of respects, and those flaws need to be corrected before the application goes before the planning committee.
“Although the council took the decision to defer somewhat late in the day, we are pleased that our legal arguments have had an impact. We now look forward to further dialogue with the council so that the matter can move forward. We have previously invited Shepherd Offshore to meet with us to discuss their application but we received no response.”
The email from Softly reads:
Dear Mr Winter
Further to my earlier e-mail I have discussed this matter with the officers concerned.
On the basis of the information which I have seen to date, I do not consider that there is any evidence of any defect in the planning process. Nevertheless, given the issues which you have raised at a very late stage of the proceedings, it has been agreed that the applications will be deferred.
A fuller response to the issues which you have raised will be provided in the very near future.
Chief Legal Officer
JesmondLocal is seeking comment from Shepherd Offshore representatives on this latest setback to its development plans.