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Dartford council ensure Lowfield Street project goes ahead by compensating people who might threaten legal action over construction

Dartford council will ensure the Lowfield Street project goes ahead by compensating people who might threaten legal action over construction.

Demolition work is due to start next month in the long-running saga that promises to build a Tesco shop and more than 100 homes after an 11-year wait.

Ahead of preparation for work to begin, parts of Lowfield Street still remain in private hands.

The street sign

As Tesco continues negotiations to buy the land, Dartford council has decided to step things up, contemplating compulsory purchase orders on those that remain.

In addition, nearby properties affected by “right to light” could be handed compensation and be made to sign an agreement that stops them taking the council to court over any loss of light.

Landowners have the right to receive light on their land and developers cannot substantially interfere with it – for example, by putting a building in the way that blocks the light without the consent of the owner.

Lowfield Street, Dartford.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said: “Back in October, the council signed off on the principle of compulsory purchase orders to move the project forward. That can move things forward in a number of ways, because our planning powers can do a lot of things over, say, what a company itself can do.

“In the case of right to light in a town centre, the right to light is fairly unimportant. However, a court case two years ago changed that so someone who has a right to light can basically stop a whole development happening.

“Clearly we don’t want that happening, so with these extra planning powers we can choose what we want to do.”

Known as “cleansing”, Dartford council could end up owning the entire site outright which would give it considerably more powers than those of Tesco owning it.

In essence, any legal issues arising from the development and right to light can be overridden, in accordance with the planning permission.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite

Cllr Kite added: “Basically this stops people stopping things. We convert their right to light into compensation and this then gives certainties to developers that work can proceed unimpeded.”

There are 18 properties that will be affected by the right to light issue, all of which are understood to be commercial.

Dartford library is also understood to be affected, meaning compensation would be given to Kent County Council.

The report concludes: "The CPO Costs Indemnity will guarantee the council will be reimbursed all expenditure incurred... including payment of all other statutory compensation and fees."

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