The Oval Chalet is an area of land in Whitstable, adjacent to the former Tile Warehouse in Sea Street.
The previous council decided to sell the land to a developer, subject to the developer achieving planning permission, in December 2014. A new council was elected in May 2015 and following public concern, has reviewed that decision.
We are proceeding with the sale because we are bound by the terms of the contract we have entered into with the developer.
We will update this page with information as required.
Announcement of legal costs - Friday 31 March 2017
Judicial Review Judgment - Wednesday 15 February 2017
“We are pleased that the Judge has found in our favour on four of the five grounds. He also concluded that there had been unnecessary delay by the claimants in bringing their case, which has held up this development from going ahead.
“Importantly, he has allowed us to continue with the contract with the developer. This is welcome news because Whitstable will now benefit from a substantial new area of public open space.
“The Judgment makes it clear that the Oval Chalet did not consist of, or form part of, an open space. However, the new development will provide open space that the people of Whitstable have not had use of at that location for many years.
“We are disappointed to have lost on the best consideration part of the case, due to out of date assumptions around affordable housing, and will take time to fully consider this element of the ruling.
“However, we have already reviewed our land disposal procedures as a result of the Oval Chalet case. Changes include seeking, where necessary, two independent Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors valuations, instead of one, when not going to competitive tender, making as much information public as possible in our committee reports and a new consultation process with ward councillors.
“We will also consider whether any further changes are needed as a result of this Judgment.”
Judicial Review date confirmed
The Judicial Review will start on 13 December and run for three days. Our response to the confirmation of the date was issued on Tuesday 13 September and read as follows:
“We will be attending the Judicial Review and defending our position. We believe we have followed the correct process throughout, which one judge has already found we did. We also believe this to be a good development, as agreed by the Planning Committee, and a substantial part of it will be protected open space.”
Appeal allowed - Wednesday 8 June
Our response to the judge's decision to allow a Judicial Review to proceed:
"Given the very clear decision of the previous judge that the claim for a Judicial Review was out of time and that the central point of the campaigners' case was unarguable, we are disappointed at this ruling and respectfully disagree with it. It's strange that two judges could differ so substantially in their approach.
"All the judge has said is that the campaigners' five grounds are arguable, but he has not given a view on the strength of these.
"It is regretful that we will have to waste more taxpayers' money on this case, but will obviously do so in order to defend our position."
Appeal lodged - Friday 29 April
An appeal has been lodged to reconsider the High Court Judge's decision not to allow a Judicial Review to proceed. Oral redetermination is scheduled for Wednesday 8 June.
Planning permission granted - Tuesday 26 April
The council's Planning Committee granted the Oval Chalet planning application by six votes to three.
Judicial Review refused - Tuesday 26 April
A High Court Judge has refused the Whitstable Society permission to proceed with a Judicial Review (JR) against the city council over its decision to sell the Oval Chalet land in Whitstable.
Judicial Review filed - Monday 22 February
We have received notification that the Judicial Review on the Oval Chalet site has been filed and, as we have mentioned before, we will be contesting it. As this matter is now before the courts, we won’t be able to say anything more on this during the legal proceedings.
New application received for the Oval Chalet site - Wednesday 17 February 2016
A new planning application has been received for the Oval Chalet/Tile Warehouse site and this is going through the standard planning process. Please click on the link to view and comment on the plans.
Press comment in response to campaign group "one last chance" press release - Monday 8 February 2016
“We are well aware of what the community wants us to do, but we have now made it clear on several occasions that the legal advice we have received is that this is a binding contract that we cannot get out of. We therefore have no choice but to oppose the Judicial Review to protect our position, even though this is money and time that we would far rather not be spending.
“In fact, our legal advice is that even if we were to somehow lose the Judicial Review, we could not be required to withdraw from the contract. All we could be required to do is take the decision again, and that would have to be the same decision, due to the binding nature of the contract.
“For this reason, the Judicial Review is going to spend money that both the campaigners and the council can ill afford, and it cannot result in the outcome they ultimately want.
“We also want to clarify a comment made in the campaigners’ press release that we have admitted to “numerous errors”. We have not. We do accept that a requirement for open space should have been incorporated into the contract, but this is far different to the campaigners’ claim.
“As we have said all along, the correct place for this issue to be resolved is through the planning process, and that process is continuing.”
Formal reply to launch of legal action - Friday 15 January 2016
We have formally replied to the Oval Chalet campaign group's Pre-Action Protocol letter.
Please be aware that we reserve the right, if it becomes necessary, not to publish legal documents if that would affect our ability to deal with the legal challenge against us.
We will continue to publish relevant documents when that isn’t a problem.
Response to launch of legal action - Monday 11 January 2016
We can today confirm that the Oval Chalet campaign group has launched legal action against the council. We too hope that there will be no need to take this through the courts, as public money would need to be spent to deal with it.
However, as it is formal legal action, the council will take advice and consider what has been said. So far, it seems that the position put by the group contradicts the advice we have so far received from our own advisers, but we will, of course, in the light of this new position, test that advice yet again.
Publication of documents - Tuesday 17 November 2015
We have today published a number of documents:
- Instructions to Counsel seeking legal advice on whether it is possible for us to withdraw from the contract and the penalties we could face were we to do so
- The unredacted legal advice we received from Counsel
- The confidential report for Executive on 11 December 2014 (part redacted)
You may also be interested in the following committee meetings relating to the sale of the Oval Chalet:
- Overview Committee meeting – 4 December 2014: discussion on proposal to sell the Oval Chalet
- Executive meeting – 11 December 2014: decision to sell the Oval Chalet
- Council meeting – 23 July 2015: presentation of petition regarding the Oval Chalet
- Regeneration and Property Committee meeting – 17 September 2015: discussion of the petition presented to Council
- Regeneration and Property Committee meeting – 22 October 2015: review of the Executive decision