KEY county hall witnesses who will speak in favour of a massive housing scheme and link road will be funded by the developer behind the controversial plans, it has been revealed.
Kensington Developments wants to build 1,150 homes on land off Queensway in St Annes and has pledged to build a vital new road across Marton Moss if given permission for the estate.
They have been backed by county highways chiefs who are desperate for the new route and will provide witnesses in favour of the entire scheme when it goes before a public inquiry in January.
A freedom of information request by The Gazette revealed the developer has paid for large chunks of the road’s design – and has agreed to fund crucial witnesses to speak on the county council’s behalf.
The move puts county hall in direct opposition with Fylde Council which is opposing the homes.
Winning permission for the road is vital to Kensington’s bid so they will pay for the highways and ecology witnesses for county hall, in a bid to ensure permission is granted.
The county council said Kensington was meeting the “lion’s share” of its costs, though it would pay for its own barrister and provide internal witnesses.
The county council says as it is the only way of funding the road its links with Kensington -– who have also been collecting signatures in support of the road – are justified.
Steve McCreesh, the council’s highways project director, said: “It is normal practice for a council’s legal and preparation costs associated with the development of a new road scheme to be covered entirely by a private developer or to be shared between both parties.
“In this case, while the developer is paying the lion’s share, the costs are being split and this includes Kensington paying for consultants to carry out work on ecology and highways and to appear at the public inquiry.”
Kensington has also paid for elements including highway and drainage design and the landscape and ecology aspects of the design.
Deputy managing director Peter Liversidge said: “Fylde Council and Lancashire County Council policy requires the developer to fund the M55 link road. Both ends of the road have been successfully built by this method and the central section is to be completed in the same manner. These costs include the design, construction and legal process costs.
“In this case the consultants design costs include preparing the necessary reports and attendance at the public inquiry.”
Fylde Council, which wants the road but opposes the estate, is adamant the road could be funded by money from other developments.