05:17PM, Thursday 02 June 2016
Legoland has revealed it has no plans to build a controversial haunted house ride at its Windsor theme park, despite winning a planning appeal which cost the Royal Borough more than £95,000.
A Freedom of Information request by the Express this week showed the inquiry, which took place at Royal Windsor Racecourse in October, has so far cost the borough £95,435.
It was held after Windsor’s urban development control panel refused planning permission for the ride in August 2014 due to concerns over traffic congestion and use of greenbelt land.
But bosses at the theme park appealed against the decision, leading to the four-day public inquiry.
Legoland subsequently won the appeal and independent planning inspector Robert Parker ruled the Royal Borough would have to stump up the legal costs for the hearing for both sides.
The Express can reveal the council spent £35,589 on its own legal costs and £55,865 on professional advice, while the cost of renting out Windsor Racecourse to hold the inquiry was £3,981.
The Royal Borough will also have to pay Legoland’s costs for the inquiry, with the council still ‘in discussion’ with the theme park to establish the final amount due.
Cllr Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor) felt the council needed stronger reasons to turn the application down. She said: “I’m not happy with the amount of money spent. Obviously the inspector said ‘no your evidence isn’t solid’. If we refuse something the evidence should be absolutely tight as a drum.”
Former chairwoman of the West Windsor Residents Association Helen Price also felt the council could have put up a better defence at the appeal
She said: “This is a shockingly high amount of money. With cuts across the borough for worthwhile community projects, how can this be justified?”
But cabinet member for planning Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) defended the decision to refuse the application. He said: “From the perspective of residents who were extremely concerned about the level of traffic, we were there to protect their interests. It was quite a costly experience and the outcome is not something we would have hoped for.
“It is easy to make criticisms after the event and in hindsight we could have always done things differently.
“The reality is everybody worked to the best of their ability and we would not have done it if we thought there wasn’t a good chance of winning.”
Legoland confirmed to the Express yesterday (Thursday) it has no plans at present to introduce the new ride at the theme park.
An independent report into a Conservative councillor has found a breach of the Royal Borough’s code of conduct in a document seen by the Advertiser.
Further details have been revealed over how many trains will be running in Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead during planned rail strikes later this month.