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Whitstable: Oval Chalet court battle costs the taxpayer more than £200,000 after Canterbury City Council defend sale

The ongoing saga surrounding a plot of seafront land in Whitstable has cost taxpayers more than £200,000 in legal costs and officer time.

Canterbury City Council has been defending the decision to sell the Oval Chalet land in 2015 at a trial at the High Court.

Top Judge Mr Justice Dove ruled that the council’s £160,000 sale of the plot could go ahead, however, the Whitstable Society confirmed this month that it will seek permission to appeal the recent decision.

The fight for the land has cost the taxpayer more than £200,000.
The fight for the land has cost the taxpayer more than £200,000.

A decision on whether they will be allowed to appeal is expected soon.

Council chief executive Colin Carmichael said: “The cost to the taxpayer can only increase if this case continues to be pursued.

“The legal arguments have already been examined fully by a senior judge who, in a very clear ruling, concluded it was lawful to continue our contract with the developer.

Council chief executive Colin Carmichael.
Council chief executive Colin Carmichael.

“Naturally we hope the application for permission to appeal will be refused and that this will be the end of the legal process.

“Once it is delivered, this development will allow the people of Whitstable to benefit from an area of open space they have not been able to use for a number of years.”

Sea Street Developments snapped up the land at a seemingly bargain price and plans to build holiday homes for the Whitstable Oyster Fishery overlooking the beach.

At the time, the sale was regarded by critics as “reprehensible in the extreme.”

The Whitstable Society want to appeal the judge's decision.
The Whitstable Society want to appeal the judge's decision.

Mr Carmichael added: “The Oval Chalet case has been long and complex. We accept the judge’s findings that we did not get the best price we could have got for the land and apologise to residents for that.

“We had, in advance of the February judgment, already examined the process we followed in selling the land, and I can reassure residents our land disposal procedures have now been thoroughly reviewed.”

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