‘An innocent party’: Lenders defend developer in £550,000 Shrewsbury land row

Land at Greenfields Recreation Ground

Part of Greenfields Recreation Ground was sold by Shrewsbury Town Council in 2017 to CSE Developments, which planned to build 15 homes.

Campaigners from the Greenfields Community Group launched a legal challenge which has rumbled on for several years and is due to end up in the Supreme Court in December.

In June this year, following the publication of an independent review by Michael Redfern KC, the town council “unreservedly” apologized to campaigners, and vowed to help return the land. However, since then, the council has said a planning barrister “unequivocally” advised the authority not to enter into mediation or discussion with CSE Developments until the Supreme Court hearing has concluded.

Campaigners have been left frustrated at having to wait, and have been critical of the town council and the developers, both of whom they believe should have known about the land’s status before the sale was completed.

Now, Shrewsbury Developments Ltd and Apricus Ltd, both of whom slow cash to CSE Developments, have waded into the row. They defended CSE amid criticism from campaigners.

In a joint statement, they said: “SDL and AL are sympathetic to GRG’s position but STC are the only ones who are in a position to resolve the situation. CSE have been caught in the middle of a situation that has been created by STC’s mistakes One thing we are certain of is that CSE would not have bought the site if they knew there was any issue with it being developed.

“Prior to purchase, CSE instructed solicitors to carry out due diligence to ensure that there was nothing to prevent the site being developed and nothing was reported to either CSE or the lenders. STC’s replies to pre-contract inquiries are on public record.

“CSE are an innocent party in this situation and neither the High Court, the Court of Appeal nor Michael Redfern KC have suggested otherwise. STC have acted unlawfully in the sale but CSE have not acted unlawfully in the purchase or at any point since.

“CSE have suffered very significantly as a business over the last five years as a result of the judicial review. They have borrowed heavily to purchase the land that they bought in good faith and have been unable to develop the Greenfields site or buy other sites to carry on their development work.They have incurred significant fees in obtaining planning permissions and interest payments on loans have built up to substantial levels.

“GRG’s battle is with STC and in turn, STC have to reach agreement with CSE regarding adequate compensation if the land is to be returned.”

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