Councillors have been told they were left in an “impossible position” after a contract was agreed to sell two pieces of land for housing before any consultation had taken place.

Lichfield District Council House

Lichfield District Council’s cabinet backed the decision to dispose of the sites at Leyfields and Netherstowe.

But the local authority’s leader Cllr Doug Pullen said that while he objected to the sale, a decision by others within the council to sign a deal with housing association Bromford meant the price of backtracking now would be too great.

Doug Pullen

“The decision was made back in 2018 prior to this cabinet forming in a bid to increase the provision of affordable housing.

“This cabinet has now taken a new direction. We recognise the need for more affordable housing, but don’t believe it ought to be built on green open space, and have stopped other similar proposals going forward.

“I am opposed to the disposal – however, a contract was signed back in July 2020 with Bromford to dispose of this land without my knowledge and without the benefit of a consultation having taken place.

“That means if we vote against the disposal we will immediately breach the contract with Bromford and open ourselves up to what could be an expensive legal challenge.”

Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council

The sale would mean a battle to prevent building on the sites, which has seen a petition of more than 1,000 signatures submitted, will now be decided as part of the planning process.

Cllr Pullen said the agreement of the contract with Bromford had left the cabinet with few options.

The land at Netherstowe earmarked for housing

“If we did decide to breach the contract, the likely remedy would be for the court to order us to sell the land to them anyway.

“That leaves me in an impossible position.

“We also can’t forget the financial implications – a capital receipt of £527,000, which we could just about swallow.

“But what I struggle to swallow is the potential legal expenses of breaching a contract, when we know the remedy will likely be to sell the land anyway.

“Our choice is to vote for the disposal of land, which I do not feel comfortable doing, or we can vote against the disposal, and thereby commit tax-payers cash to fight a legal battle, which will end up in the same result.”

Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council

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20 Comments

  1. Couldn’t the council find another piece of land to offer Bromford?
    Surely Bromford do not want to destroy such a lovely recreational space?
    Hopefully Bromford want to protect our environment.

  2. I’m not convinced that the leader didn’t know that this contract was signed in July 2020 and without consultation. Beggars belief! Perhaps he’d care to explain the process to convince us otherwise. I won’t hold my breath though.

  3. These developments can be built amongst the ruins of Cllr Pullen’s drive for greater transparency and accountability.

    Shocking admission that the Cabinet is impotent. Equally shocking that it cannot overturn decisions seemingly made at will be unelected officers of the council. Begs the question why do we bother having elected representatives if they are hamstrung so easily?

    We can vote under-performing councillors out of their role. We can’t do anything about those council officers who are apparently responsible for this.

    Even if they are bound by decisions made by the woefully incompetent council led by Wilcox, surely this issue should have been flagged up earlier by officers so that the new Cabinet and council could try to act? What’s the point of having a policy to protect green spaces if you do not also investigate any lingering and damaging hangovers from the previous administration?

    No-one comes out of this well.

  4. The pragmatic way forward is to discuss this situation with Bromford. If a strong case can be made that the decision process was flawed and that it ought to be reconsidered they may be prepaired to accept this. If not then, while they might have the legal prerogative, it does not mean they need to be considered for future contracts. If a decision is demonstrably wrong and has not met the democratic procedure then it should not be implemented.

  5. Now I realise why the meeting was not held on line, how disgraceful when something as important can be done without our reps. being unaware, makes you wonder what else goes on behind the scenes,
    ————————-
    THE AGENDA FOR LAST NIGHTS MEETING
    Lichfield City Centre Masterplan – Commercial Property Advisor
    Appointment
    3 – 6
    4. Exclusion of Public & Press
    RESOLVED: “That as publicity would be prejudicial to the
    public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the
    business to be transacted, the public and press be excluded
    from the meeting for the following items of business, which
    would involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as
    defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the
    Local Government Act 1972”
    5. Confidential Appendix to Agenda Item 3 (Commercial Property
    Advisor Appointment)
    7 – 8
    This item is to be considered in private since it involves the likely
    disclosure of exempt information (as defined by Paragraph 3, Part
    1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to
    the financial interests of the council and the financial and business
    affairs of other organisations.
    6. Contract for Place-Based Software Systems 9 – 12
    This item is to be considered in private since it involves the likely
    disclosure of exempt information (as defined by Paragraph 3, Part
    1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to
    the financial interests of the Coun

  6. A no name official [an employee of LDC one presumes] held secret meetings & signed a contract to dispose on 2 sites for building with Bromford for £527K in total during July 2020 – with no reference to LDC planning or cabinet. Further LDC cabinet was not aware of this, [most unusual & sloppy management] but were fully aware of concerns receiving over 1000 written local voter objections.
    What was the precise authority enabling these 2 sites to be OK’d for building and exactly when? Did Bromford actually pay £527K & where was it recorded in LDC Finance Accounts? Who is this official & line manager? both still employed? Are Bromford going to build despite environmental facts? This is a serious & bizarre saga of mis management or do Bromford not care about their reputation. If Bromford did pay £527K last July I suggest it is returned & re start discussions. 1000+ votes are at stake!

  7. If building must go ahead opposite Tesco Netherstowe, why couldn’t it go on the land opposite the agreed site? It’s a virtually-unused carpark and a patch of green that’s simply a litter dump. It’s also adjacent to other Bromford properties.

  8. Is this the same cabinet that wanted to close Friary Grange Leisure Centre without consulting anyone? If so, this leaves a bad smell around the “didn’t know” statement

    What about a swap deal with Branford? After all they just want to build social housing, I’m sure they don’t want to build here at all costs and might consider an exchange for other suitable land in order to keep a friendly relationship- has this been explored?

  9. Yet another demonstration of the incompetence of LDC. Who is running this council? What was the point of publicising the issue months ago if the decision had already been taken? This whole issue is an insult to the people of Lichfield. Heads should roll, but we know this won’t happen. I think there should be a public enquiry into this. The people of Lichfield deserve to know what is happening behind closed doors, and why. The council decide on planning applications from others, but apparently are free to do what they want when it comes to their own machinations.

  10. Not sustainable development, were councillors not aware it was Greenfield?, of course they were, all very suspicious. But then again not really, we have tories running the council then and now.

  11. A report by Councillor Ashley Yeates, dated 4th Sept 2018, mentions that the cost for the 2 pieces of land is £655,000 and that “The disposal would be subject to Bromford obtaining planning consent for the developments.”
    It seems, from this report, that the land was sold before the planning application was submitted in August. Had Bromford been informed that planning permission would be granted prior to the sale?

  12. This sounds very strange…the ldc doesn’t want to build on green spaces but, because of a previous decision by the council, they had to agree to sell the land? Because the 100% conservative cabinet had to vote to do that to avoid legal costs…?
    So with their ldc hats on, the same councillors can refuse planning permission in order that the land isn’t built on…?
    What am I missing here, please can someone enlighten me?

    (Aside from that & no response requested…Why do the Lichfield electorate still vote Tory…quite, quite beyond me. This is the result..nobody wants this, whats going on)?

  13. Did I hear right listening in the meeting online that the Chief Executive said that the decisions were made by officers no longer working in the council? I’m sure she’s said this before! To me this smacks of a bad workman (or woman in this case) blaming her tools! Its everyone else’s fault but hers! BUT shouldn’t the buck lie with her, shouldn’t she agree on everything before it gets signed off.

    Rob sounds to me like the councillor concerned and anyone concerned has made a massive boo boo and was only interested in flogging land quick

    As I’ve said many a time (and will keep saying it) get rid of the rotten lot with exception of Pullen and Grainger – at least they have a heart and not a swinging brick on a piece of wet rope and want the best for the City

  14. If the disposal of the land was subject to planning consent, has this or has it not been granted? If not then surely there is an opportunity to stop it, or am I missing something? As for Cllr Eadie’s stance, this just shows how out of touch with the people he is. The council have broken the law, is this not taken into account? The whole affair is disgusting, and frankly suspicious.

  15. Oh and while I’m on about last nights meeting Councillor Eadie should be ashamed in his comments and should resign from his position immediately. His heart isn’t in the well-being of Lichfield residents it’s all about me me me me me – Maybe he’s going to be the city’s next opera singer Pava-rotti

    Would he consider swapping sites that are to be sold and have the estate closer to his home? Of course he wouldn’t!

  16. #CDC – Although Bromford are a registered social housing provider it’s not their only business.
    This land has been acquired for ‘affordable housing’ quote, “We recognise the need for more affordable housing” unquote.
    There is a difference between social and affordable housing.
    Social housing is rented from a social housing provider. Affordable housing whilst it might well be provided by i.e. Bromford is usually sold on the open market, at a profit and refers to housing units, usually small, that are affordable by that section of society whose income is below the median household income, but who are just about in a position to buy.

    #Sarah Landon – I couldn’t agree with you more.

    And unless I have missed it have the Cllrs. for that Ward made any comment or are they simply going with the flow?

  17. “Would he consider swapping sites that are to be sold and have the estate closer to his home? No. Of course he wouldn’t!”…. Sarah Langdon. Of course he wouldn’t. He’s alright Jack. So are we “all in this together”. I don’t think so. Unless he is able to show Lichfield constituents some land ripe for development or affordable housing near to where he lives. Another issue with this so called “affordable housing” is whether it is Leasehold?

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