Preston leader in ‘utter disbelief’ over Tithebarn appeal

Blackburn with Darwen Council has reignited the row with Preston Council and Lend Lease by appealing the government's decision to approve the major retail development.

Cllr Ken Hudson, leader of Preston City Council, responded to the news with a statement on Tuesday. Hudson said: "We are just in utter disbelief. It means more expense to the taxpayers of Blackburn and yet more delays and uncertainty for Preston. How Blackburn can justify spending public money on another unnecessary legal challenge to Tithebarn at a time when they are making job cuts, is quite simply beyond us and no doubt most reasonable people."

Tithebarn is anchored by new John Lewis and Marks & Spencer stores alongside further retail units, restaurants, a cinema, office space, 400 residential units and 2,700 car park spaces across a 36-acre site.

In May and June 2010 a public inquiry was held and in November the Secretary of State decided that planning permission should be given.

Cllr Dave Harling, Blackburn Council's executive member for regeneration, said: "After a lengthy six week inquiry the inspector agreed with us that the Tithebarn planning application was flawed and should be rejected. The minister overturned this decision, but it is not clear how he reached his decision and we believe that there are procedural improprieties that need further investigation. The impact of the minister's unjustified decision will have a negative effect on Blackburn and other local towns, which the minister did not appear to think was important."

Also at Blackburn, Cllr Andy Kay, executive member for resources, said: "The costs of any appeal formed part of the original legal fees. There is a lot at stake – not only local jobs, local businesses but also the long term future of Blackburn town centre. We need to protect the millions of pounds we have invested so far. Our investment in the town centre, which is valued at tens of millions of pounds, including the new Mall and our new market could be seriously jeopardised by a development of the scale of Tithebarn."

Drivers Jonas Deloitte advises Preston City Council.

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Tithebarn will never be built but politicians and officers in Preston cannot afford to lose face having pursued this project for over a decade inadvertently stifling any alternative and ultimately more realisable developments in the process. Today is the day to take down the Christmas decorations, and Tithebarn is the big shiny bauble that needs to go back in its box.

By UnaPlanner

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