MP asked to intervene in long-running St Peter's saga
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
TEESDALE’S MP is being asked to step in to solve the long-running saga of a Teesdale eyesore.
Gainford Parish Council is requesting that Dehenna Davison puts pressure on Durham County Council to finally find a solution to the problem of St Peter’s.
It comes after a county planning committee last month rejected plans by Kebbell Homes to build houses on its part of the St Peter’s School site because the scheme did not include the redevelopment of the main school building.
The building and the remainder of the site belongs to Ruttle Plant.
The two companies were given permission for the development of the entire area but have been unable to reach an agreement about how to go about it.
Gainford Parish Council heard at this month’s meeting that arsonists had again set fire to the building this month.
Commenting on the planning committee meeting, parish clerk Martin Clark said: “The chairman of the planning committee almost pleaded with Kebbell and Ruttle to sort themselves out and get this eyesore finally ended.”
He pointed out that the two companies still have a year left on their original planning permission to reach agreement. However, acting chairman Cllr Simon Platten said the planning committee chairman’s comment had no “legal substance” and was unlikely to have an impact.
He added: “Ruttle clearly has no intention of doing anything anytime soon.”
Cllr Sarah Hannon said the parish council needed to be more proactive and suggested finding out how much Kebbell was prepared to pay for Ruttle’s part of the site and then approach Durham County Council about making a compulsory purchase. She said: “The fire brigade was there again this weekend. It is costing the fire service a fortune, so basically that is taxpayers’ money. It is also engaging the police to try to sort out the trouble that goes on there.”
She added: “[We should] look at getting Durham to do a compulsory purchase of the site at a price they know Kebbell want, so they can actually develop the site.
“Otherwise I think Durham should compulsory purchase and put it on the market so that someone else can develop it.” Mr Clark responded: “I understand from Kebbell themselves that when they have offered to purchase the land, Ruttle asks for well above the market value because they have got the planning approval for it.”
He suggested that the council again contacts MP Dehenna Davison to intervene.
Cllr Platten said: “I will make contact with her again and say that it has been set fire to again and we need to pursue a compulsory purchase, or some sort of affirmative action.”