Jack Straw’s concern on Whitebirk retail park
BLACKBURN MP Jack Straw will today highlight Peel Holdings’ battle with Hyndburn Council over new, larger stores on Whitebirk retail park as an example of developers exploiting planning law loopholes to get their way.
He has written in this morning’s Times newspaper and was set to appear on BBC Radio Four’s Face the Facts programme to criticise their legal strategy.
Mr Straw said: “I am trying to use what is happening at Whitebirk to expose nationally a wider abuse of legal loopholes by developers to get round planning decisions.”
In the Times, he wrote: “Whitebirk Retail Park was built in the 1980s. The owners of this site are Peel Holdings, a large, privately-owned property company.
“Over the years Peel has shown a single-minded determ-ination to pursue its share-holders’ interests.
“In 2005 Peel sought to avert the decline of its White-birk site by submitting a new planning application for its partial redevelopment.
“Hyndburn Council said ‘No’. Peel appealed. The planning inspector said ‘No’ as well.
“But Peel do not enjoy taking ‘No’ for an answer.
“Between 2008 and 2011 they sub-mitted 29 minor, and apparently un-connected planning applications.
“Having assembled their 29 sep-arate, routine planning permissions, Peel then claimed that, taken tog-ether, these 29 gave them a right to alter the use of the buildings.
“Hyndburn indicated they would try to block Peel’s strategy. Peel are now taking them to court.
“Peel have used this tactic before, in Sunderland, where they won their court case.
“Last year retail expert Mary Portas to conducted a review into the future of the English high street.
“The government has now built on her recommendations that local authorities must recognise town cen-tres “as the heart of their comm-unities”.
“Unless the government end this loophole, their worthy intentions will come to nought.”
Peel claims its proposed dev-elopment will create jobs and boost the local economy.