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Hotel plan delayed for the FOURTH time
6:20am Thursday 9th January 2014 in News
PLANS to build a hotel on the doorstep of Colchester’s Castle Park have been delayed for the fourth time.
In the latest in a series of challenges, Jo Hayes, a Lib Dem for Colchester’s Council’s Castle ward, has made a new plea for a judicial review.
The council gave Whitbread planning permission to build a Premier Inn hotel in St Peter’s Street in September 2012.
But 16 months on, no work has taken place to demolish the former Royal Mail depot and build the three-and-a-half-storey 85-room hotel.
Mrs Hayes claims planners were not given the full facts when they agreed the proposal.
On Monday, after being told her written submissions to the Court of Appeal calling for a judicial review had been rejected, Mrs Hayes applied for an oral hearing at that court.
Tim Young, councillor responsible for planning, said the prolonged legal battle had put the scheme, which would create 30 jobs, in jeopardy.
He said: “We’re doing our best to keep Whitbread keen while councillor Hayes employs the delaying tactics, because I’m sure that’s all they are.
“She’s taking it to extremes by taking it this far down the legal process. I’m confident we will win, but it’s very frustrating.
“It’s an eyesore, it’s stopping jobs in the construction industry and it’s stopping jobs in the hospitality industry.”
Last year, Mrs Hayes discovered through a freedom of information request Whitbread had been asked by Colchester Council if it was interested in an alternative site, Roman House and St James House, in Queen Street.
The land was nearer the top of a list of the council’s preferred sites for hotels.
In its planning submissions, Whitbread told the authority the site was not available.
Mrs Hayes launched unsuccessful paper and oral appeals to the Administrative Court in London before turning to the Court of Appeal.
It is believed this week’s bid, which calls on the Court of Appeal to order the Administrative Court to take a fresh look, is her final legal avenue.
If she is unsuccessful, Mrs Hayes faces a growing legal bill.
Although the former property lawyer has been able to use her expertise so far, she admits she must now hire an advocate Mr Young said the authority had spent £11,000 on the case.
If Mrs Hayes is unsuccessful, she will be sent that bill as well.
Mrs Hayes said none of the three judges who had so far ruled on the application were experts in planning law.
She said: “I hope eventually I will get this before someone who will take this seriously.
“If they didn’t even consider a relevant fact then they ought to reconsider. It has been an uphill battle, but I have said I will battle it all the way and that’s what I’m doing.”
No one from Whitbread was available for comment.
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