CAMPAIGNERS opposing a housing development on a former school site say legal costs could spiral if the plans are given the green light.
Planning bosses at Newcastle City Council are expected to give the go-ahead to former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd’s plans for the site of the old La Sagesse private school this week.
But members of the Jesmond Action Group have warned planning officials they are prepared to start legal proceedings against the council, which could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Chairman Rex Winter said: “The application itself and the council’s conduct in dealing with it are hopelessly flawed. We have written to the council in detail highlighting the numerous errors.”
The council’s planning committee was due to meet on December 14 when it was expected that the proposals would be approved.
However, the application was postponed at the 11th hour following objections from the action group which asked for more time for issues to be discussed.
Mr Winter said: “Inexplicably the council then scheduled a special planning committee meeting for January 4, leaving no time for dialogue to take place.
“If the planning applications are approved this Friday, the council will be in breach of their statutory duty and their duty to the community that they serve.
“We have warned the council that if the applications are approved we will immediately commence proceedings in the High Court for Judicial Review.
“We have provided them with a costs estimate which indicates that their initial costs risk will be in the region of £110,000. If the matter proceeds to the Court of Appeal, that figure will be closer to £300,000.”
He added: “We have the funding to bring this claim, we have the grounds and we have the determination.”
Offshore energy tycoon Mr Shepherd has faced a backlash from residents since his company unveiled the plans, which would see one of the main school buildings, Jesmond Towers, being converted into 10 luxury apartments.
The application also includes plans to build 60 houses and apartments on land to the west.
Mr Shepherd bought the site for £5m after La Sagesse closed in 2009. The school had occupied Jesmond Towers since 1912.
A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said it could not comment on the group’s letter while the application process is still ongoing.