A High Court Judge has today (Tuesday) ruled the multi-million pound Banbury Gateway retail park can go ahead after a judicial review against Cherwell District Council’s decision to grant planning permission was rejected.
Following a two-day hearing at London’s High Court on 6 and 7 November, Mr Justice Burnett ruled the council’s decision to approve planning permission for LXB to create a new retail park in place of Prodrive at Acorn Way, Banbury was legally sound.
During the course of the two day hearing, Queen’s Counsel acting for Aegon and Scottish Widows, who respectively own Banbury Cross Retail Park and Castle Quay, alleged the council had made legal errors during the decision making process and therefore the decision from March 2012 was flawed.
However after examining all of the evidence and listening to rebuttals from Queen’s Counsel acting for Cherwell District Council and LXB, Mr Justice Burnett dismissed the judicial review enabling the development to proceed.
Cllr Michael Gibbard, lead member for planning, said: “We are absolutely delighted with today’s decision as the benefits associated with the Banbury Gateway are far reaching. As well as creating hundreds of new employment opportunities for local residents it will secure hundreds of new and existing jobs at Prodrive which is using this development to fund its relocation from this site to larger premises within the town.”
Aegon and Scottish Widows brought the judicial review on four grounds:
The council had failed to understand and apply the ‘sequential test’ of putting the town centre first
The council’s conclusion that the development would not damage the vitality and viability of the town centre was incorrect
The summary reasons given for the grant of planning permission were inadequate
The council failed to secure Section 106 agreements obligating Marks and Spencer to maintain their town centre store for at least five years after opening the new one and requiring Prodrive to maintain operations at Hella for an unspecified period.
During his review of the case, the Honourable Mr Justice Burnett dismissed each of the grounds, stating he was “entirely unpersuaded that the planning committee misunderstood the sequential test”. He added that the practical and enforceable problems identified by council solicitors’ in creating a Section 106 agreement committing Marks and Spencer to Banbury town centre and Prodrive to Hella would be “undesirable”.
In summary, Mr Justice Burnett said: “None of the grounds advanced by the claimants succeeds. In those circumstances the claims for the judicial review are dismissed.”
Aegon and Scottish Widows have been ordered to pay the council’s legal costs and having received Mr Justice Burnett’s judgment, either party has 21 days to appeal the ruling.
More to follow.