Protestors opposed to a new £2m council contact centre believe the development may not have got the go-ahead if council bosses had not committed a planning oversight.
Bolsover District Council hopes building work will start for the new centre, on Middle Street, by January, after the council sold its former Sherwood Lodge offices to make way for a new Morrisons supermarket.
But after the Ombudsman announced last month that Sherwood Lodge included public open space that was wrongly sold by the council, Bolsover Civic Society feels Morrisons’ council-approved application may have been considered differently and this may have affected the centre planning decision.
Society chairman Bernard Haigh said: “It’s sad the council did not check records. If they had checked the original conveyance there may have been a different outcome.”
Mr Haigh opposed Morrisons’ application, which is going ahead, because of the potential impact on smaller traders, its central location and limited access concerns. The society was also opposed to a new, big, expensive contact centre on a restrictive site with limited parking and access and feared it would fail to blend in with surroundings.
The council said there had been nothing in the deeds about public open land, that Sherwood Lodge had been appropriated for development years ago and Derbyshire County Council had rejected the site for Village Green Status. It argued people had been given a chance to object during consultations and all concerns were considered before its planning committee approved both plans.
The complainant, who alerted the Ombudsman about the public land, said: “I think it would have made a difference to the end results because people have felt strongly that it was public land.”
Bolsover District Council’s planning committee has approved the Morrisons development and the contact centre plan.
Both are still going ahead despite The Local Government Ombudsman’s findings that public open land was wrongly sold.
The Ombudsman recommended the council revise its land strategy and urged it to offer £250 compensation to the complainant.
The Save Sherwood Green group has also expressed disappointment with the council’s planning process. Save Sherwood Green’s monthly meeting is also tonight, from 7.30pm, on Wednesday, at The North Star pub, Bolsover, where campaigners will be discussing the Ombudsman’s report and a possible plan of action.
Bolsover District Council Contact Centre at the Sherwood Lodge offices will be closing for the festive period at 5pm on December 23 and will re-open at 9am on January 2.
To coincide with this closure, the centre will be temporarily relocated to the rear of Sherwood Lodge as part of wider redevelopments. Those needing assistance can call (01246) 242424.
Residents can access all the same services and the centre will be open, as usual, from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.
The move is to accommodate plans for a new centre on Middle Street car park followed by the new Morrisons store at Sherwood Lodge.