Long Arm of the Law; Judge to Rule on Legality of Old Document

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay

AN obscure deed which lay gathering dust in a cupboard for decades could scupper a pounds 40m development. The document, drawn up by the long obsolete Consett Urban District Council 48 years ago, gives permission for land at Belle Vue, Consett, County Durham, to be used by the public. Its exact meaning will be considered by a judge in April when a judicial review is heard into an appeal by the Consett Green Spaces Group to have the land designated Village Green Status.

If the group is successful, development on part of the site could be banned, meaning ambitious plans to build a pounds 26m new campus for an academy next to a pounds 14m sports centre at Belle Vue would be thrown into jeopardy.

The Green Spaces group have come under fire from parents of children at the academy, which is currently on a split site at Blackfyne and Moorside, from local MP Pat Glass and from players and officials of Consett football club, who stand to benefit if the new campus and sports centre is built.

The football club's run-down Belle Vue ground would be demolished and they would transfer to a new pounds 2.5m stadium at nearby Crookhall.

The Green Spaces Group argue that part of the site of Consett's former steelworks at Berry Edge would be a more suitable location for both the new academy campus and a sports centre.

John Campbell, chairman of the group, said: "Pat Glass is urging us to settle for second best when most people in Consett are desperate to settle for nothing less than the very best for their children.

"We say an academy built on the former steelworks site would create extra new playing fields and pitches for both the pupils and the wider community.

"We want to protect the Belle Vue playing fields because we believe that part of what is best for young people is continuing to have open areas to play on. …