'Garden village' Northumberland estate at centre of planning row is up for sale

The Northumberland estate at the centre of a planning row, which saw a £10million High Court claim against the county council lodged and then dropped, is now up for sale.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 09:04 am
An artists impression of the Dissington Garden Village, which was previously on the cards for the Dissington Estate.

The Dissington Estate, to the west of Ponteland, described as a ‘significant long-term development opportunity, is being marketed by Cushman & Wakefield.

It is for sale as a whole, although individual lots may be considered, with the price available on application.

The 2,523-acre estate comprises five farms of various tenancies and 10 further residential properties (three freehold and seven under tenancies), with an annual income of £286,137.

Back in March 2017, Newcastle-based developer Lugano’s application for the Dissington Garden Village (DGV), up to 2,000 new homes and other facilities on part of the estate, was handed a minded-to-approve resolution by Northumberland County Council.

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However, after the Conservatives formed the new administration following the elections in May that year, they withdrew the previous core strategy before developing a new version of the Local Plan, which required the reassessment of the DGV scheme.

In May last year, Lugano made serious accusations against the local authority as well as council leader Peter Jackson, chief executive Daljit Lally and cabinet member for planning John Riddle, alleging misfeasance in public office over how its application had been handled.

Writs were then issued in the High Court in late August/early September, but in November, it was rumoured that Lugano, or at least its arm dealing with the DGV application – Lugano Dissington Estate Ltd, was in financial difficulties, after fixed charge receivers were appointed for the estate.

In late January this year, we reported that the DGV application had been withdrawn just days before going in front of the council’s strategic planning committee again, where it was to be recommended for refusal.

At the time, Lugano said it was continuing with its High Court action and that it would resubmit the plans in the future, but in March the legal claim was discontinued as it was revealed that the estate was no longer in the ownership of Lugano Property Group.

The notice of discontinuance was signed by Simon Conway, director of Matterhorn Capital, one of those to provide a loan to Lugano for the DGV project.

The sale particulars for the estate do make reference to the DGV, explaining how it has been affected by proposed changes to green-belt policy.

However, the description adds: ‘Representations have been made to the revised emerging Northumberland Local Plan, challenging the assumptions made by the council in assessing future housing need and the green-belt review and promoting the principle of development in the location of the Garden Village.’

The Local Plan was submitted to the Government last month and examination hearings by an independent planning inspector are expected to take place in September.