Threat to dairy development
Legal action from Sainsbury's could scupper £100 million Arla project
A £100million leisure development planned for South Ruislip could be delayed by up to a year or even scrapped altogether, after Sainsbury’s announced plans to take legal action.
The supermarket giant, which wants to enlarge its existing store nearby, plans to call for a judicial review of the process through which planning permission was granted for the development of the derelict former dairy site in Victoria Road.
Andrew Rennie, managing director of Citygrove Securities plc, the firm behind the plans, said he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the decision and that ‘significant’ delays were now ‘inevitable’.
He added: “The ultimate nightmare is the judge agrees with them, which I’m sure they won’t, and quashes consent and you are left with a derelict site.”
The plans involve building a 40,000sq ft Asda supermarket, an 11-screen Cineworld complex – also housing a Starbucks coffee shop – five family restaurants – including a Frankie & Benny’s, a Chiquito, a Bella Italia and a Nandos – 14 houses and 118 flats.
J Sainsbury plc had previously obtained consent for plans to demolish and re-build its nearby supermarket, in Long Drive. It hopes to receive further permission to build a new store on the same site for while work is being carried out.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “Our decision to proceed with the new store development is predicated on the outcome of the Arla Food site, which was approved last year. We consider that the council did not properly address the issues relating to this application and we will therefore be challenging the decision through legal action. A decision on the new Sainsbury’s store development will be made once this matter has been resolved.
“This decision will not affect our existing South Ruislip operation. All jobs will be secure and we will continue to serve our loyal customer base from our existing store.”
Mr Rennie said: “Sainsbury’s’ concerns have been fully considered by Hillingdon’s planning committee. Sainsbury’s have also expressed those concerns to both the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State, both of whom upheld Hillingdon’s decision to approve the application.
“Sainsbury’s have had permission to extend their store in South Ruislip since 2006, but have chosen not to do so ... The legal challenge has no merit, but its sole purpose is to stifle and restrict competition.”
He added: “We are ready to commence works on site in March to ensure the scheme could be completed and open by Easter 2016. There will inevitably be a significant delay now whilst we overturn these unnecessary legal proceedings.”
Planning officials previously decided that the benefits of developing the Arla site, which has been vacant since the former Express Dairy closed in 2005, would outweigh the negative impact of Sainsbury’s not going ahead with its enlarged store.
The Arla development is expected to create 536 jobs and comes with the condition that Citygrove must give £2.7m to the council for infrastructure projects. The firm would also pay for Long Drive and Victoria Road to be widened and for new traffic lights to be installed to cope with increased traffic, as well as for pedestrian walkways linking the site to both South Ruislip station and the parade shops in Long Drive.
n UNDER THREAT: An artist's impression of the redevelopment at the Arla site at the former Express Dairy