The judicial review of Cherwell District Council’s decision to give a Banbury out-of-town retail park the go-ahead, will be heard in the high court next week.
The council decision in March 2012 to approve the controversial M40 Gateway development at the site of Prodrive in Wildmere Road has been questioned by the owners of two major shopping centres in Banbury.
Aegon and Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP), who respectively own Banbury Cross retail park and Castle Quay shopping centre, successfully applied for a judicial review earlier this year and the matter will be heard in the high court in London on Wednesday and Thursday.
The review has forced Prodrive to delay its planned move into its new headquarters – the former Hella manufacturing facility in Noral Way.
Prodrive chairman David Richards said: “After a full and thorough planning process lasting nearly three years, the council and the local community gave their full support to this project and the benefits it will bring to the town. We are confident that the judge will uphold the original decision and allow this important investment in the town to proceed.”
Prodrive has also had to renew a lease on its existing composite manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes. Mr Richards said work has recently started on a £15 million contract to manufacture components for a new British supercar.
“Ideally we would have already transferred this high tech production to our new facility in Banbury. Instead, the delays caused by the judicial review have left us with no choice but to extend the lease,” he said.
Spokesman Adrian Cammidge of Kames Capital, acting on behalf of Aegon, said: “We believe the granting of planning permission will be detrimental to the existing retail provision in the town centre and to the retail park. There is currently an over-supply of retail outlets in the town with several premises remaining un-let and the scale and nature of the proposed development will only exacerbate this problem.”
SWIP spokesperson Kahrene Lawrie said: “We believe that the application did not comply with the sequential test and that the approval of the scheme does not protect the town centre. We believe that town centres should be the focus for development before approval is given to develop out of town centres.”