Campaigners are determined not to let Bolsover District Council “off the hook” after the authority wrongly sold public open space to secure a multi-million pound supermarket and petrol station development.
The Save Sherwood Green group held a packed meeting at The North Star, in Bolsover, last Wednesday, where campaigners discussed the sale of the council’s Sherwood Lodge office site, off Oxcroft Lane, to Morrisons without considering the site as public open space.
SSG concluded it wants to bring the council to task because it feels they were denied the right to object on the grounds of preserving green land and campaigners are considering legal advice.
Campaigner Chris Christopher said: “There is outrage. We believe things would have been different if people had had their say over the land. We never said we didn’t want a development but no compromise has ever been considered.
“The move to also get a petrol station was too greedy but the council wanted a certain deal because they needed a certain amount of money.
“People want to know what can happen next and whether we should consider legal action and how the council can be brought to account.
“We don’t want to let them off the hook.”
The Ombudsman found the Sherwood Lodge site included public open space that was wrongly sold by the council who agreed to follow the watchdog’s recommendations of paying £250 compensation to a complainant and to review its land strategy.
But SSG feels the council escaped lightly after securing the sale, giving the Morrisons’ development planning approval and moving the council offices to the Arc, in Clowne.
The council stated there had been nothing in the deeds about the public open space and Sherwood Lodge had been appropriated for development years ago without objection.
A council spokesman added that the approved plans are still set to go through and it was up to the Ombudsman to decide the punishment.
Bolsover District Council stated the Morrisons’ development aims to breathe new life into the town, retain local spending, increase choice and improve the economy while creating over 200 jobs.
The planning application was submitted by Morrisons and approved by the council planning committee in November 2012 and no changes can be made to this application.
The council stressed the decisions made by elected members and the support they receive from officers is all done in accordance with its constitution and in the interests of its local communities.
A council spokesman said: “The issue in question is not a planning issue and has no relevance on the decision made by planning committee in November 2012. It is to do with the appropriation of the land which took place in June 2011 – some 17-months before any planning application was decided upon.”