Did Northumberland Sack Chief Planner for Refusing to Change Garden Village Recommendation?

Newcastle Chronicle

The company behind a massive development in Northumberland has filed an explosive complaint accusing the leader of the council of serious misconduct.

Lugano are behind a controversial plan for 2,000 homes on the Dissington Estate, north of Ponteland, which have long been opposed by Conservative leader Peter

Now Lugano has launched a sensational attack, accusing the leader of attempts to influence the planning process and bullying.

Mr Jackson strenuously denies the allegations and the council is taking legal advice over what a council spokesperson described as “inappropriate, untrue and defamatory statements”.

In a letter to the council’s head of legal services seen by ChronicleLive, Lugano’s executive chairman Richard Robson and director Allan Rankin set out their claims.

The letter alleges: “Our evidence shows how Mr Jackson employed various unlawful practices which included bullying, intimidation, attempted coercion and the exercise of improper influence, of councillors and council officers, employed by the Council, over an extended period of time.”

It alleges that he used “unlawful means” to remove Mark Ketley, the former head of planning services, from his role and discussed the sacking while on a “game shoot”.

Lugano claim it has evidence that “strongly suggests… Mr Jackson’s intentional withdrawal of the Local Plan and Core Strategy was part of his wider plan to undermine the Dissington Garden Village scheme.”

The letter goes on to state: “Mr Jackson and the other individuals involved have lost sight of the responsibility of their roles.

“Mr Jackson is not fit to hold public office. Accordingly, NCC must instigate forthwith a full third party independent enquiry into their actions, with a mandate to make public the enquiries findings.”

It is unclear is the council can legally determine a planning application which they have resolved to approve a-lthough the law on this matter on ‘minded to grant’ resolutions is not black and white.

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