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'No money left for Horkesley Park lawyers'
7:00pm Friday 27th September 2013 in News
THE family behind plans for a major tourist centre in Constable Country has revealed it “is not in a position” to pay for lawyers at a crucial planning inquiry.
A three-week investigation of Bunting and Sons’ plans for a £25million visitor centre in the Stour Valley will start next week.
But the family says, having spent several million pounds on trying, for 12 years, to get the scheme passed, it will have no lawyers present at the event.
Stephen Bunting, senior partner at Bunting and Sons, said: “Unfortunately, funds for this pre-development phase have now been exhausted and therefore we are unable to have legal representation and expert witnesses at the inquiry.
“Consequently, we shall rely on the substantial amount of submitted evidence, including the planning application and the volumes of associated documents and other information, to be the full extent of our submission.
“We trust the inspector conducting the appeal will review all of the submitted evidence, which addresses matters fully.
“The far-reaching professional reports, compiled by a large number of independent specialists, confirm that what is proposed will be beneficial across the board, with no significant adverse effects.
“Provided planning permission is granted, as recommended by the council’s own planning officers, additional funds will be released to complete the agreed development and enable delivery of the benefits of the proposals. Funds are in place for this and will be without any draw on the public purse.
“Our decision not to have legal representation and witnesses at the inquiry will undoubtedly shorten the length of it and as a result, save costs for the council.”
Will Pavry, chairman of the Stour Valley Action Group, which has led opposition to the plans, said: “We are amazed by the development but we will wait until we see the inspector’s reaction when the inquiry begins.
“We welcome it because we are quite sure it must weaken Buntings’ position considerably.”
The Buntings’ application would see the creation of a major visitor centre, which the family says would attract 316,000 visitors a year.
The planning appeal is taking place after Colchester Council voted against the plans in March, by ten votes to four, because they did not think the centre was economically viable and would cause damage to the picturesque Constable Country.
The inquiry is due to start on Tuesday at Langham Community Hall.
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