Westway retail park row continues after Antonine owners have more to say after court case

The company, which won a Court of Session case against North Lanarkshire Council over planning permission for a retail park, says the legal dispute could have been avoided if the local authority’s rules were different.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 9:20 am

The council had granted planning permission for a major expansion of Westway Retail Park in Cumbernauld, with more shops, restaurants and a cinema, but this was overturned by Lord Burns who described NLC’s decision as “materially flawed”.

The owners of the Antonine Shopping Centre in Cumbernauld Town Centre, Bridges Antonine, had requested a review of the planning consent granted by the council and took their fight all the way to the Court of Session which found in their favour.

This means NLC could potentially end up paying significant legal fees if the court decides to award costs to Bridges.

Bridges is now calling for changes to the way councillors are briefed to prevent similar incidents in future.

Tom Tyler of Bridges, said: “We were available at the committee room and wanted to be allowed to explain to the councillors where the planning officials had got things wrong.

“We practically begged council officers to allow us to be heard.

“However, the rules of the council, inexplicably, forbid us from making any comment or statement, even if it is only to clear up factual inaccuracies and glaring errors.

“That seems absurd and perverse.

“Had we been able to speak and to cross-examine officers, I am confident that councillors would never have reached this ridiculous decision and that neither ourselves nor the council would have ended up in court. However, it seems the planners consider the fact that costly court action is an option for anyone the council rules against to be the acceptable default procedure.

“This is regardless of the cost to the council and the council taxpayers.”

The rules preventing appellants from addressing committees were introduced in 2018.

The report which introduced these protocols suggested there would be no financial impact for the council.

Mr Tyler added: “We consistently attempted to alert the council about errors in the processes but were thwarted.

“It is vital that the protocols the council follows in future allow proper communication with the committee to avoid future costly failures.

“Surely it makes sense for North Lanarkshire issues to be heard in North Lanarkshire and not at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.”

In his findings Lord Burns said the council  “acted unreasonably and perversely in concluding that the Westway proposal could be developed without detriment to Cumbernauld Town Centre.”

A spokeswoman for North Lanarkshire Council said: “The council adheres to Standing Orders in relation to how committees operate. We are reviewing the judgement and will determine our next steps in due course.”

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