Ju­di­cial re­view threat­ens Arla devel­op­ment

Sains­bury’s wins lat­est battle over plan

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE £100mil­lion leisure and shop­ping devel­op­ment in South Ruis­lip will be fur­ther de­layed, or may be scrapped, af­ter Sains­bury’s won the lat­est court­room battle.

On Thurs­day, a judge granted the su­per­mar­ket chain per­mis­sion for a ju­di­cial re­view of the process through which the devel­op­ment of the derelict for­mer Arla Foods dairy site, in Vic­to­ria Road, was given plan­ning con­sent.

The two-day re­view is ex­pected to take place by the end of July and could lead to the plans, which in­clude a ri­val Asda su­per­mar­ket, be­ing thrown out.

An­drew Ren­nie, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Ci­ty­grove Se­cu­ri­ties Ltd, the firm be­hind the plans, said: “It’s ob­vi­ously dis­ap­point­ing be­cause we were due to start on site in March and we were suc­cess­ful at the writ­ten stage. We have now had to de­lay the con­struc­tion for a sec­ond time.

“How­ever, we are very con­fi­dent that ul­ti­mately Sains­bury’s will fail. Their grounds aren’t strong enough, in our opin­ion, for the per­mis­sion to be quashed. It’s a de­lay­ing tac­tic.

“If, in a night­mare sce­nario, they are ul­ti­mately suc­cess­ful, then South Ruis­lip loses out on jobs and ameni­ties.”

The plans, which could cre­ate up to 530 jobs, in­volve build­ing a 40,000 sqft Asda su­per­mar­ket, a cinema com­plex, five restau­rants, 14 houses and 118 flats.

Sains­bury’s owns a ri­val su­per­mar­ket in nearby Long Drive, which it has had plan­ning per­mis­sion to dou­ble the size of since 2006. The com­pany has said it will not act on this if the Arla devel­op­ment goes ahead.

The su­per­mar­ket gi­ant’s ini­tial re­quest for a ju­di­cial re­view – sub­mit­ted in Fe­bru­ary – was re­jected by the courts.

But Sains­bury’s re­fused to give up, re­quest­ing a ver­bal hear­ing with a judge, who has now agreed there is an ‘ar­guable’ case for the plan­ning de­ci­sion to be re­taken.

At the next hear­ing, the courts could ei­ther de­cide that the ex­ist­ing plan­ning de­ci­sion – al­low­ing for the devel­op­ment to go ahead – should stand, or a judge could rule that the coun­cil must re­con­sider the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Sid Jack­son, vice chair of the South Ruis­lip Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “It’s dis­ap­point­ing but I don’t think it will change the out­come. I’m quite con­fi­dent of that, be­cause I think the plan is good for the area.

“I think any­thing that de­lays pro­duc­ing 130 homes and more than 500 jobs in an area where they are needed is bad news and it’s the lo­cal com­mu­nity that are go­ing to lose out.”

The coun­cil ini­tially re­jected the Arla plans early last year, be­fore re­vers­ing its de­ci­sion in Oc­to­ber.

Sains­bury’s ar­gues that the coun­cil did not ad­e­quately jus­tify its u-turn, given that only ‘min­i­mal’ changes were made to the plans in the in­terim.

Sains­bury’s also claims the coun­cil failed to fol­low the gov­ern­ment’s na­tional plan­ning pol­icy frame­work, which states that town cen­tre de­vel­op­ments, such as the store ex­pan­sion it has per­mis­sion for, should take pri­or­ity over ‘edge-oftown’ projects, such as the planned Arla devel­op­ment.

A Sains­bury’s spokesman said: “We note the judge’s de­ci­sion and look for­ward to a full hear­ing later in the year.”

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