Tyne & Wear

Developer drops £10m council legal case with council

Artist's impression of Dissington Garden Village Image copyright Lugano
Image caption Lugano claimed it had lost out financially as a result of the council's actions

A High Court action against a council in a dispute over plans for 2,000 homes has been dropped by developers.

An arm of Newcastle-based Lugano Property Group had been seeking £10m damages from Northumberland County Council and three of its members over their handling of the Dissington Garden Village proposal at Ponteland.

It alleged the authority acted improperly and unlawfully.

The council welcomed the announcement.

The authority had initially said it was minded to approve the scheme but changed its stance.

Lugano Dissington Estate Ltd alleged it suffered serious financial loss due to misfeasance in public office by the council, which is under no overall control but has had the Conservatives as the largest party since May 2017.

Its court action also targeted council leader Peter Jackson, cabinet member for planning John Riddle and chief executive Daljit Lally.

Mr Jackson, who represents the Ponteland South with Heddon ward, said: "All along we said that there was no foundation for their wild and unsubstantiated allegations against councillors, council staff and the county council itself, all of whom have just been carrying out their proper functions."

He added the council would pursue Lugano Dissington Estate Ltd for "very substantial legal costs", the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Image copyright Northumberland County Council
Image caption Council leader Peter Jackson (left), chief executive Daljit Lally (centre) and cabinet member for planning John Riddle all denied the claims

The news came as it was also reported that Lugano Dissington Estate Ltd was no longer owned by Lugano Property Group.

The notice of discontinuance was signed by Simon Conway, described as director of Lugano Dissington Estate Ltd.

He has been approached for comment.

Although it said it was not involved in the decision to discontinue the legal action, Lugano Property Group said it "stands fully behind the claims made in both the legal proceedings and our previous complaints to the council".

The proposal for the garden village was withdrawn in late January just days before it was due to go back before the council where it was to be recommended for refusal.

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