WRITS have been served on Northumberland County Council and three of its representatives as part of a property developer’s legal action.

Newcastle-based Lugano has made a High Court claim against council leader Peter Jackson, cabinet member for planning John Riddle and chief executive Daljit Lally, as well as the local authority itself.

The company claim that the trio acted improperly and unlawfully, in relation to its planning application for the Dissington Garden Village (DGV) – up to 2,000 homes and facilities near Ponteland.

It has claimed their actions amounted to misfeasance in public office, which caused Lugano a serious financial loss. The developer is now seeking damages amounting to almost £10m.

Allan Rankin, a Lugano director and shareholder, described it as ‘unfortunate that matters have come to this sorry state’ and said the serving of the writ was a last resort.

The 47-page document which details the particulars of the claim sets out an alleged chain of events through which those involved sought to thwart the DGV.

But the county council has consistently maintained that it acted ‘reasonably and lawfully.’

The county council did not comment other than to reiterate its previous statement.

“We are aware of further correspondence from the Lugano Group, and continue to take legal advice in this regard.

“As previously stated, we believe that the council has acted lawfully and reasonably throughout this process.

“We continue to work with Lugano on its live planning application for Dissington Garden Village.”

Lugano has referred its concerns and all of its supporting evidence to the police.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We are aware of the concerns and are working with Lugano Group to establish if any criminal offences have taken place.”

A spokesman for Northumberland Labour said: “The council is now facing £10million in direct damages, which will fall squarely on the shoulders of Northumberland taxpayers.”