Development stalled over Cuffley property wrangle

PUBLISHED: 15:50 24 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:02 24 February 2017

Letchmore Construction LTD contracts manager Nick Harrington and chairman of Willows City Estates PLC Terry Bambridge in front of the disputed land which is halting construction.

Letchmore Construction LTD contracts manager Nick Harrington and chairman of Willows City Estates PLC Terry Bambridge in front of the disputed land which is halting construction.

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Construction of a block of affordable flats in Cuffley is being held up by a bizarre row between the developer and the parish council.

Willow City Estates has complained to MP Charles Walker about Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council, and several solicitors’ letter have been exchanged.

According to company director Terry Bambridge: “It is a classic example of nimbyism, and an actual disgrace that the parish council should behave like this.”

His company, which is based in Little Berkhamsted, has planning permission to build a block of five flats in Maynard Place, right next to the council’s offices.

Work started in January with the intention of finishing in September, but can not proceed further because the company has to erect scaffolding on a small patch of land owned by the council.

The council has refused permission - purely, according to the company, because staff want to park there.

The company, which is based in Little Berkamsted, is now trying to prove it can put up scaffolding under legal right of “access”, supposedly established when the land changed hands many years ago.

Mr Bambridge told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “These flats will have the lowest rents in Cuffley. They would be ideal for people’s children to move to. I can’t understand why they (the council) are wasting public money trying to stop it.”

Parish council clerk Jason Grocock responded: “The parish council has exercised its statutory duty and protected its legitimate property interests.

“Construction has ceased because of a legal dispute with a third party. If and when that legal dispute is resolved and unlawful occupation ceases the parish council will enter negotiations with Willow Estates.

“Willow Estates have no pre-existing rights to use the parish council land for construction purposes.

“Willow Estates were given notice by both the parish council and others on more than one occasion of the potential legal impediments, which they ignored and commenced construction.

“They unlawfully occupied land, which gave rise to the injunction proceedings.”

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