THE attempt by Wye Future Group to get the so-called Wye Concordat quashed by Ashford Borough Council has been rejected.
The rejection of the WFG’s pre-action protocol — a letter sent to Ashford Borough Council and Kent Council informing them that the group intends to seek a judicial review of the Concordat if it is not dropped — significantly increases the likelihood of costly legal action in the High Court over the agreement signed between Imperial College and the two councils last year.
Rejecting the pre-action protocol, Cliff Robinson, acting for borough solicitor Terry Mortimer, said that the Concordat has no legal force and will not tie the council’s hand when it comes to considering any planning applications related to Imperial’s proposed science park.
He said: “The document which was signed by the leader on December 6 is a declaration of understanding between the signatories (the concordat). As made clear on its face, it does not bind the council and has no legal force. No legitimate expectation can possibly arise in respect of the document.
“Neither the council, the executive nor any committee or sub committee of the council has endorsed the document. The document does not represent council policy.
“The document is no more than a declaration of understanding in respect of preliminary discussions between the signatories. The leader is entitiled to enter into such discussions but he cannot, and does not purport to, bind the council in respect of these discussions or their outcome.
“I can confirm that any development proposals from Imperial College will be treated by the council as local planning authority in the same way as all development proposals. I repeat that the concordat does not represent council policy, in this or any other context and has no binding force.”
Mr Robinson concludes: “In the circumstances, I would be obliged for your confirmation that you agree that it is not appropriate for you to proceed further against this authority.”
Read the letter in full here.