Council Leader demands money back!

August 14, 2006 3:53 PM

The Leader of Rochdale Council - Councillor Alan Taylor has call for Countryside Properties to 'bear the costs' of the Atkins Report into the contaminated land at the former TBA Site in Rochdale. Rochdale Council estimate that the final cost of producing the report could be as high as £80,000. In the letter to Countryside Properties - Councillor Taylor says that the report was commissioned solely to "assess the adequacy of the studies carried out into ground contamination issues associated with your outline Planning Application to re-develop the former Turner Brothers Asbestos site at Rooley Moor Road."

Councillor Taylor said, "I am asking Countryside Properties to relieve this burden on the taxpayers of Rochdale. The final, estimated figure of £80,000 is a huge amount of money to the people of Rochdale. The decision to commission the report was absolutely the correct one and I applaud Paul Rowen MP, then Leader of the Council for making the bold decision to have this done. The results speak for themselves and would hope that Countryside Properties now show commitment to the safe development of the site by meeting the costs of this independent report."

The reason for the request are as follows:

There is significant public disquiet about the safety of the proposals and the way information about the site has been presented. It was clearly imperative that the fullest possible information be obtained on these issues.

It is generally accepted that the submission on contamination issues with the original planning application was insufficient. You, as applicant, acknowledged this by providing supplementary information. To provide a more appropriate submission would have involved you in significant further costs.

The report was needed only because of your application to develop the land.

You will gain a significant benefit from the report as it identifies the deficiencies in the application submission.

Paul Rowen MP said, "I await the decision of Countryside Properties with great interest and hope that they agree to this. They have not behaved with great dignity in this ongoing problem and it was vital that the Council took this measure. By paying this money, money paid for by the Tax Payer they can show a real commitment to the truth and the sensitive work that needs doing at this site before any development can take place."

Dear Sirs

RE: PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF THE TBA SITE, ROCHDALE

COSTS OF THE ATKINS REPORT ASSESSING THE APPLICATION

I write with regards to the costs incurred by Rochdale Council in respect of the above report commissioned by the Council from Atkins.

As you know, the report was commissioned solely to assess the adequacy of the studies carried out into ground contamination issues associated with your outline Planning Application to re-develop the former Turner Brothers Asbestos site at Rooley Moor Road.

Our estimate is that the final costs may rise as high as £80,000 and to-date Rochdale Council has incurred fees of £57,990 in having the report produced and made publicly available. These costs do not include the significant amount of time and effort put in by our officers.

As Leader of the Council I feel that you, as applicants, should bear these costs.

My reasons for doing so are:

There is significant public disquiet about the safety of the proposals and the way information about the site has been presented. It was clearly imperative that the fullest possible information be obtained on these issues.

It is generally accepted that the submission on contamination issues with the original planning application was insufficient. You, as applicant, acknowledged this by providing supplementary information. To provide a more appropriate submission would have involved you in significant further costs.

The report was needed only because of your application to develop the land.

You will gain a significant benefit from the report as it identifies the deficiencies in the application submission.

The actual expenses incurred by the Council in assessing your application have been far in excess of the statutory fee, which, in most cases, is expected to cover the costs of assessing the associated application.

It is unfair that the Council Taxpayers of Rochdale should be expected to underwrite these costs, irrespective of whatever decision is taken on the application.

I therefore call upon you as applicants to pay the full expense of commissioning the Atkins report assessing your application.

Yours faithfully

COUNCILLOR ALAN TAYLOR