A deal to sell land in Lichfield for housing has been branded “a total mess” by a local councillor.
Lichfield District Council’s cabinet backed a move to sell the land at Leyfields and Netherstowe to housing provider Bromford earlier this week.
But it emerged that a contract had been signed on the deal before necessary public consultation had taken place.
Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the local authority told the cabinet meeting that the contract had left him in an “impossible position” given the council would likely face a costly legal battle if they sought to pull out of the deal.
Cllr Dave Robertson, Labour member for the Curborough ward, said local residents had been let down by the council.
“The decision around the disposal of the land by Lichfield District Council has been a total mess.
“The public in Lichfield deserve better than a consultation which is ultimately meaningless when it is set aside due to the premature signing of a contract by officers.
“It should also be concerning that the consultation to sell off the land began so long after planning permission had been sought, meaning that the discussion around the sale was inevitably linked to the planning proposals.
“In my view those proposals, particularly at Leyfields, have significant problems around traffic management and drainage, and do not represent a good use of public land.”Cllr Dave Robertson
More than 1,000 residents have signed a petition against the proposals to build on the land, which will now be considered as part of the planning application process.
However, one member of the cabinet said the benefits of building affordable housing on the sites would outweigh the negatives of the loss of public open space.
But Cllr Robertson said it was important the feeling of local residents and organisations – including Lichfield City Council which has also objected – were taken into account.
“I do hope that the objections are listened to carefully by the planning committee when they meet as those objections cannot and must not be ignored.”Cllr Dave Robertson