Campaigners hoping to restore Hoole ’s Alexandra Park to its original state are unhappy the owner of the former park keeper’s lodge is seeking planning consent for a two storey extension and detached garage.
Lead activist Linda Webb continues to challenge Cheshire West and Chester Council ’s decision to sell the lodge to a property developer for £249,000 in February 2013 which she says was ‘not removed in a proper manner’.
Mrs Webb argues both the community and current occupants Stephen Cooper and his partner Chrissy, who bought the house for £475,000 in May 2014, were victims of the council’s actions. But she is unimpressed with Mr Cooper’s decision to submit a planning application.
She said: “He’s showing he’s not respecting the fact this is the park keeper’s lodge, an intact, historic building and an icon of Hoole. He’s implying he can do whatever he wants on that land. It’s up to the council now and the council planning arm to face up to the issue.”
“He doesn’t have grounds for developing it or selling it on.”
Mrs Webb is asking members of the public to object to the planning application and for it to be ‘called in’ for a decision by the planning committee rather than be delegated to an individual officer.
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Last year campaigners called on CWaC’s audit and governance committee to commission an independent inquiry into the whole saga but this was voted down by members.
The overwhelming majority of councillors, both Labour and Tory , supported Mark Wynn, director of finance, who relied on external legal advice which concluded any further inquiry was ‘unlikely to find any further information’, the sale could not be deemed unlawful and any review could not change the outcome as the current occupants had bought the property ‘in good faith’.
It was at that meeting where Mrs Webb revealed police were involved although she understands any action by the Crown Prosecution Service is now on hold pending the outcome of a Land Court hearing where campaigners will attempt to prove the council had no right to sell the lodge. If successful, this could result in a restriction being placed on the property.
Home owner Stephen Cooper previously addressed Hoole Community Forum where he expressed feeling ‘upset’ at the prospect of potentially losing his home.
He told the meeting: “I’m four generations Hoole. This is my dream house and for me to be a little bit upset is not unreasonable. You can talk about whose fault it is and I understand it’s the council. That is nothing to do with me but it’s my home that’s at risk.”
The home owner, who was supported by several members of the packed meeting at Hoole Community Centre, brought along a letter from Hoole Alexandra Park Bowling Club, located in front of the lodge, expressing support for the way he and his partner Chrissy had ‘become part of the life at Hoole Park’.
The Chronicle has asked Mr Cooper’s agent if he wishes to comment on latest developments and is awaiting a response.