Legal claim update

The Oval Campaign now awaits a decision by a High Court judge as to whether the Claim (in the name of the Whitstable Society) against Canterbury City Council can go forward for a full hearing. The Claim was lodged on 17th February. For reference only, read it here.


Most importantly, the Council’s Summary Grounds of ‘Defence’ was lodged on March 11th (http://preview.tinyurl.com/CCCDefence) and the Campaign’s ‘Reply’ to that Defence was lodged on March 24th (http://preview.tinyurl.com/Oval-Reply-toDefence).

The latter was necessary as the Defence contains no evidence and was misleading and thus had to be corrected by the barrister.


The Defence referred to CCC’s Land Registry application form FR1 of 2002 signed by the then chief legal officer Mark Ellender stating that the land was held as legal Open Space amenity land. The form itself was discovered by a campaigner in March and as CCC did not supply it to the court, it was attached to the Reply for the judge.


City Councillors reading this update should compare the situation stated in the Defence with the contents of an email that they received from CCC’s Chief Executive on 15th March 2016, which states that the application was signed by a junior officer following the instruction of his boss, Mr Wilson Sharp.

However the truth is stated in Para 24 of CCC’s Defence issued 4 days before on March 11th 2016 : ‘…the application made in 2002 for the Site-to be registered at the Land registry. This refers to the Site being held as open space amenity land. This expresses the view of the Council’s then solicitor, Mark Ellender, at that time, following the view of his predecessor Mr Wilson-Sharp in his 1990 memo and his 1996 letter referred to above.’ Mr Wilson Sharp took early retirement in 2001’.


All this gives renewed context to the statement of Mr Ellender to the Executive and the public in Oct 2013: ‘there is no indication that it was to be used as public open space’. In other words he stated that despite the existence of the FR1 signed by Mr Ellender when the chief legal officer (not to mention all the papers from predecessors held secretly in CCC register). This is all detailed in the chronology at the end of the Reply to the court.

 It appears to speak volumes about CCC’s case that both the CCC Defence and the Reply have not been published on www.canterbury.gov.uk/ovalchalet .  The CEx letter to councillors gave his, apparently, personal views on a crucial piece of evidence (the FR1) that is lodged with the court whilst telling them not to comment and not giving them access to either the Defence or the Reply.

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Oval Chalet community group say a “tower block of massive proportions” is proposed for Reeves Beach

Oval Chalet community group say a “tower block of massive proportions” is proposed for Reeves Beach

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Following a full review of the new proposal put forward by Sea Street Developers Ltd. for the Oval site at Reeves Beach in Whitstable, the Oval Chalet Preservation Community  (OCPC) group says the new proposal is “offensive and oppressive” and inappropriate for this unique beach front site. 

 Members of the OCPC say that their study proves the information released by SSD through the Lee Evans Partnership is misleading, and say that the proposed development is totally unacceptable for the conservation area of Whitstable. 

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 OCPC are calling for Canterbury City Council planning officers and councillors to review their study to see the actual density and mass of this towering block of 15 units and commercial retail proposed for the site. 

 The site was sold in private session to SSD without going to tender or put on the open market.  The OCPC, along with the Whitstable Society, has continued to fight for the land to be kept as public open space for the use of the community. 

 Suzanne Blaustone, co-chair of the OCPC said the proposed development is “a towering block of massive proportions.” 

 “Only 15% of the original public site will remain ‘open space’, and that ownership of the land will be retained by the developers so that in time, they can use the space as they please. 

 “The new development is massive and obstructive and its size and design effectively prohibits any community enjoyment or use in the future.”

 The OCPC has had CAD (computer-aided design) drawings created  – these show that the five storey high development will dramatically block sunlight for residents in the area, and will be an offensive breach to their privacy and quality of life. 

 The OCPC also has drone camera photos of the site at the level of the 5 storey homes which show the true scale of the development.

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 Additionally, within two meters of some homes, there is a planned ‘kiosk’ in the development –  potentially a bar or café causing noise, smells and disruption to the residential ambiance of the conservation area.  The location of this proposed retail space is totally unacceptable in this neighbourhood –  and could be sold off in the future for other purposes as well. 

 The OCPC says it is crucial that objections to the development be submitted to the CCC Planning Department by 18 March to keep this “greedy travesty from occurring.”   Objections can be lodged online at: http://tinyurl.com/hyghq5r

  For further info call Suzanne Blaustone.

Office:    +44 1227 792 979

Mobile:  +44 7798 640 196

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Fundraising

We hope that you’ve been following our campaign to save the Oval in the local press.

Just in case you haven’t, we thought we would give you a quick update to let you know where we stand in this valiant effort to secure the Oval as Public Open Space.

Last month we sent CCC a legal letter called a PAP (pre-application protocol). Essentially, it set out the issues that made the sale of the Oval site illegal, and requested the council to make a formal response.

Our letter achieved fantastic reviews, however, the Council refuted all of our grounds and skirted around the strongest part of the case. It was a weak and puffed- up response to the hard efforts of our volunteers and legal team. Their lawyers also failed to come up with any significant new legal points or evidence.

Sadly, the Chief Executive has decided to continue wasting public money on a costly legal action rather than follow up and consider the options set forth by the community group. We have spoken to another barrister now (the one who successfully handled the Kingsmead case) and they want to take the case on.

We need more funds to ensure that this case gets safely to court. This is where you may be able to help.

It’s a shame to have to pursue legal action, but we have no choice. The Council could easily cancel the contract or insist that it is rewritten in the light of public outrage at the sale. Instead they have chosen to fight their own constituents.

Any donations, both large and small are welcome. You can either pop some money or a cheque in to Copperfield’s on Oxford Street, (cheques to be made out to Whitstable Society) or donate on the Whitstable Society website. If you’re a UK taxpayer, don’t forget to fill in a GiftAid declaration too, that way we can claim some extra money back for our campaign. Or you could come along to our auction, enjoy some nibbles, wine and jazz and help to support us. Auction and raffle catalogue

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Come along on Saturday!

Hi all,

Perhaps you have seen the unprecedented declaration publicised by the Sea Street Developers and their architects Lee Evans. See link: 

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/whitstable/news/oval-chalet-demonstrators-threatened-with-47842/  

 It appears to be a threat of legal action if we persist in using the democratic process to question the sale of the Oval land!  (We are trembling in our boots over here!!) The OCPC has never named people in this controversy – we have always fought this battle with the council as it was the council and its officers who allowed this land sale to go through!  We do believe that the developers have not acted in the best interest of Whitstable – and we continue to think so – but our focus has been to have the council review and rescind their land sale decision of December 2014…and we continue to fight this corner.

 

This Saturday at 2 pm the Oval Chalet supporters will be gathering for an hour at Reeves Beach just in front of the Oval site for mulled wine, mince pies and a few carols to welcome the holidays.  Please try to join us!  Our supporter and guitarist Rory will be there to sing our theme song again and provide music for the carols.  The Gazette is sending their photographer over  – so we need a good gathering of people! Bring a new tag to hang from the fence at the Oval site  – and we have red and green ribbons for everyone to tie a new bow! 

So join us for an hour of cheer! 

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An Introduction

This site exists to enable supporters and interested parties to view the documents and history related to the sale and use of the Oval Chalet site in Whitstable.

We have tried to make this as objective and easy to read as possible.

If you would like to participate or help with our campaign and are not already on our circulation list please email hilary.jones@btconnect.com.

 

 

 

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