THE COUNCIL has promised an independent inquiry into the Sheeplands saga.
Earlier this year, the High Court released its verdict that Wokingham Borough Council had acted in an unfair and unjust way towards the Hare Hatch based plant centre and nursery.
The Sheeplands v Wokingham Borough Council case dates back several years and relates to Sheeplands expanding its nursery and farm shop business into becoming a garden centre with associated businesses including an antiques centre, a fishmonger and a double-glazing business.
These had been built on protected green belt land and, although Sheeplands had attempted to get appropriate planning permission, Wokingham Borough Council served enforcement notices, forcing the business to downscale.
It also sought to prosecute the businesses for trading there.
In a long battle between the council and Sheeplands, thousands of members of the public signed a petition of support of the Hare Hatch nursery, which led to a fiery council debate.
As a result, the five-year battle in now subject to an independent review of the council’s actions.
Some residents have asked questions in the council chamber, calling on officers and councillors to be suspended while the review takes place and urging for the results to be published in full, rather than redacted.
Earlier this week, the council confirmed that it would be conducted by an external reviewer to ensure impartiality.
Andrew Moulton, Wokingham Borough Council’s Assistant Director Governance told residents that the review was now ready to start.
He said: “I have met with the independent reviewer to agree a terms of reference (ToR) for his work.
“The reviewer will carefully consider the court judgments of 17 January 2019 and 18 June 2018, and will be speaking with the relevant officers and Members pertaining to this matter.”