Among the many treasures to be found in the council’s FoI release on the Railway Path land sell-off are some emails that reveal the huge influence of Square Peg’s large corporate agents – such as solicitors Davies and Partners and planning consultants Pegasus Planning – over the city council.
Indeed it rather looks like these private interests are actually calling the shots to our council officers – the supposed custodians of our land – rather than the other way around:
[Pete] Webb [Portfolio Management Officer, Valuation Practice, Property Services] to Chanelle Brodie [Senior Planning Case Officer] 01/07/08 09.03:
“….. Their solicitors have suggested an alternative should we decide not to proceed with the disposal of this land this is for an easement over BCC land to the cycle path. …”
Isn’t it nice of these private corporate interests to go to the trouble of suggesting to us exactly what we should do with our park land?
Brodie to Webb and [Matthew] Cockburn [Transport Development Control Manager] 01/07/08 09.28:
“…. I had a meeting with the developers yesterday and they did confirm that their solicitors are currently looking at the matter.
They intend to –
1) secure conditional ownership over the land marked in green; AND
2) include the additional section of land adjacent to the cycle path, within the ‘red line’ area proposed for “development”, when the formal planning application is to be submitted in Aug 08. They said that THEIR legal team are currently investigating the best way to secure use and permission to develop (for front gardens and access to the proposed “cycle houses”) in relation to the Council-owned land adjacent to the cycle track. I am this morning hoping to get the contact details of a solicitor working for the developers in an attempt to get this issue bottomed out ASAP and well ahead of the submission of the formal planning application.
So some firm of solicitors just announces that they intend to use a public park land verge on the path as they see fit and inform the council that’s what they’ll be doing. Meanwhile our rep Chanelle will “get the issue bottomed out”.
And doesn’t she just? As the planning application goes on to include plans to develop the verge for front gardens and access for the proposed “cycle houses”. Fancy that!
Brodie to Cockburn, [Ewan] Kilgour [Davies and Partners] and [Stuart} Rackham [Pegasus Planning] 01/07/08 10.24:
“….. – it’s likely therefore that the plans we have seen thus far have not been accurately drawn in relation to formal/legal property title boundaries.”
Er, shouldn’t the council make sure of this before they start selling bits off land here, there and everywhere? Just a thought, like.
[David] Bishop [Strategic Director of City Development] to Webb 03/07/08 11.59:
“I need to see precisely how this proposal interfaces with the Council’s bike path land. Can you come and see me with all the plans?”
Hang on a minute. Didn’t Bishop agree to sell the land to Ferguson in May after a series of private, unminuted meetings and phone calls between the pair? And now in July – just a month before the planning application is due in – he wants to know what effect the development might actually have on the Railway Path that he’s supposed to be responsible for looking after for us?
Isn’t it traditional to do this sort of thing before you agree the sale?
Hat tip: Dona Qixota