Plans for digital hub to be challenged

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The Cecil Estate Family Trust is challenging a decision to approve plans for a four-storey office building in Stamford.

Founder of digital investment company Haatch Scott Weavers-Wright’s application for a digital hub in Blackfriars Street was approved by South Kestevan District Council’s planning committee in September.

The plans sought to redevelop Lansbury Hall, the former Cummins Social Club, into a four-storey building to house The Hub, a digital innovation centre, which will create 150 jobs.

But the building’s scale and height and the pressure it would put on parking came under fire from nearby residents as well as Stamford Town Council who opposed it.

But the application was granted permission by the district council’s planning committee.

Now trustees of the Cecil Estate Family Trust, which is part of the Burghley House Preservation Trust, have issued a Letter of Claim to the High Court seeking a judicial review of the decision.

The trust owns seven listed properties in the St George’s Square including the two Grade 2 listed buildings, 14 and 14A, next to Lansbury Hall.

In a statement the trust said: “It is the trustees view that the council had failed to consider that the demolition of the former Cummins Social Club and erection of a new four storey office building with 150 seat auditorium in a basement to be excavated would damage the Grade 2 listed medieval barn and wall of Nos 14 and 14A.”

It also said that as the club is connected to the Grade 2 listed medieval barn and wall the application for The Hub should have been for Listed Building Consent which the council had failed to seek.

Tom Bagge, partner at property consultants Strutt and Parker, which is acting for the trust, said: “It would be very difficult to see how the developer can take the building down and go down 15 feet without disturbing the nearby property. There will also be huge loss of privacy.”

Mr Bagge said the councillors who approved the plans had not looked at the property from the enclosed gardens of 14 and 14A at the back from where they would have spotted the potential problem.

Mr Weavers-Wright said he made every effort to ensure the building was in keeping with the surroundings and enlisted the help of English Heritage and structural engineers and was “shocked, but not surprised” to hear an application for a judicial review had been made.

“It is very disappointing,” he said. “The planning committee discussed it and then voted to approve the plans.

“To say they should not have granted permission is a challenge to the democratic process. It is a real shame.”

South Kestevan District Council’s director of growth and development Steve Ingram said he was aware of the application for a judicial review of the authority’s decision to grant planning permission for the digital Hub in Stamford.

He said: “If it went ahead, the council, acting in respect of its role as the Local Planning Authority, would be seeking to robustly defend the development control committee’s decision.”

Judicial review is the procedure by which you can seek to challenge the decision of a public body.

The application is initially considered by two judges who will decide whether or not to grant a judicial review. If they say ‘no’ the applicant has the opportunity to make another application when both parties have the opportunity to put their case verbally.

If the answer is still ‘no’ the applicant can appeal the judges decision to the Court of Appeal. If the judge grants the application the decision, in this case, goes back to the planning committee to be considered from scratch.