We did not write letters on controversial sport and leisure complex, say “consultees”

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How the proposed football ground at Highland Court would look

The controversy over the proposed sport and leisure complex at Highland Court in Bridge has taken a curious twist ahead of the planning committee meeting to decide its fate.

Two members of the public have told planners at Canterbury City Council that they were not behind letters sent in their names during the consultation period for the £125 million scheme.

Another four have complained that their names have been used in another representation, insisting they signed a general letter which made no mention of the Highland Court scheme and did so before the formal planning application was even submitted to the council.

The application comprises new homes for Canterbury City FC and Canterbury Rugby Club, 175 holiday homes and other facilities.

It has provoked strident local opposition, largely because it would involve a largescale development in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There were a total of 571 objections.

However, there were also 1,137 representations in support of the development.

The application is due to be decided at the meeting of the planning committee tonight (Tuesday, February 5).

Committee members have been given a special supplemental report ahead of the meeting outlining the new information about the representations.

It does not say whether the submissions were against or in favour of the development.

Written by planning officer Steve Musk, the supplemental report informs councillors: “Two members of the public have made contact with officers suggesting that representations apparently in their name were not in fact completed by them.

“A further four members of the public have indicated that they signed a general letter but without reference to the site and prior to the date this planning application was submitted and considered by officers.

“Where a member of the public has asked for a representation in their name to be removed from our website, they have now been removed.

“We have no way of knowing, at this point in time, whether any other such requests will be made but, if they are, we will also remove those representations.

“Consequently in order to avoid any possibility of inappropriate representations being seen to have influenced your decision, members are advised not to base any judgement on the application on the numbers of representations received from members of the public, as described at para 42 of the Officers Report.”

The committee meets in the Guildhall at 6.30pm tonight. The meeting is open to the public.

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