Su­per­mar­ket fight could cost you £200k

Tax pay­ers face foot­ing bill as Sains­bury’s pushes for Arla ju­di­cial re­view

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­

HILLING­DON tax pay­ers could foot a £200,000 legal bill be­cause of at­tempts by Sains­bury’s to stop a £100mil­lion devel­op­ment con­tain­ing a ri­val Asda store from go­ing ahead in South Ruis­lip.

The su­per­mar­ket gi­ant has ap­plied for a ju­di­cial re­view of the process through which the pro­posed devel­op­ment of the derelict Arla site was given plan­ning per­mis­sion by Hilling­don Coun­cil.

Now Ci­ty­grove Se­cu­ri­ties Ltd, the com­pany be­hind the plans, and the bor­ough coun­cil have lodged their de­fences of the plan­ning process with the High Court and it will be up to a judge to de­cide whether or not to grant the ju­di­cial re­view.

Ci­ty­grove chair­man An­drew Ren­nie said that, based on pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence with sim­i­lar cases, his firm be­lieved this could cost the coun­cil up­wards of £200,000, as Sains­bury’s has re­quested the de­fen­dant pays the claimant’s costs.

Mr Ren­nie said: “The fee to lodge the ap­pli­ca­tion with the High Court was a mere £140, which has al­ready caused a three-month de­lay. Even if a judge re­fuses to hold a hear­ing Sains­bury’s can po­ten­tially ap­peal that de­ci­sion, for a fur­ther court fee of £350, de­lay­ing the scheme fur­ther.

“But when you con­sider Sains­bury’s could save £1m for ev­ery month of de­lays, it’s no won­der the com­pany is do­ing ev­ery­thing to try and slow down the in­evitable. It is immoral that Sains­bury’s should use both the plan­ning sys­tem and the ju­di­ciary for the sole pur­pose of pre­serv­ing their mo­nop­oly in South Ruis­lip, to deny res­i­dents fur­ther choice and com­pe­ti­tion.

“It has not been easy telling un­em­ployed young­sters that their em­ploy­ment train­ing has been put on hold, but Sains­bury’s lose sight of th­ese im­pli­ca­tions in their pur­suit of prof­its.”

This week it emerged that dou­ble Olympic gold medal­list Dame Kelly Holmes had writ­ten to Sains­bury’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Coupe crit­i­cis­ing the su­per­mar­ket’s re­sis­tance.

The Arla site re-devel­op­ment is ex­pected to cre­ate more than 530 jobs and the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust has been work­ing to cre­ate youth em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The plans in­volve build­ing a 40,000sq ft Asda su­per­mar­ket, a cinema com­plex, five restau­rants, 14 houses and 118 flats at the derelict for­mer dairy site in Vic­to­ria Road. Work had been sched­uled to begin this month. Sains­bury’s has had per­mis­sion to dou­ble the size of its ex­ist­ing su­per­mar­ket in nearby Long Lane since 2006.

Part of the su­per­mar­ket com­pany’s ob­jec­tion is that it be­lieves plan­ning guide­lines state that town cen­tre de­vel­op­ments, should take prece­dence over “edge-of-town” projects. A Sains­bury’s spokesman said: “We be­lieve there are a num­ber of unan­swered ques­tions in the way Hilling­don Coun­cil ap­proved the Arla foods scheme. We have asked an in­de­pen­dent judge to re­view the case and look for­ward to their re­sponse.”

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