Anger over High Court bid to block Tollgate Village in Colchester
Shoppers will have to wait for months to see if Tollgate Village will be built in Colchester after a last-ditch effort was launched to stop it from going ahead.
Critics have hit out at town centre business Fenwick and Lion Walk Property S.A.R.L after they both applied for a judicial review to block the out-of-town shopping centre, which would create 1,000 jobs.
Papers submitted to the High Court by the companies have argued the inspector who led the planning review into Tollgate Village earlier this year made a mistake in allowing it to go ahead.
It is believed they have argued that the inspector interpreted a point of law incorrectly.
Although no date had been announced as to when work at Tollgate Village could start, this latest hearing means there will be yet more delays and the proposals may be pulled altogether.
Priti Patel, MP for Witham, which covers Stanway, said: “The Tollgate Village scheme signifies a huge investment in jobs in Stanway and is widely welcomed.
“It is disappointing to see this attempt to block this much-needed investment.”
Tollgate Village was given the thumbs up by Secretary of State Sajid Javid on August 4 after a ten-day hearing earlier this year.
Daniel Watts and Jayne Gee, directors of Tollgate Partnership Limited, said: “This again delays the economic benefits, jobs and sustainable facilities that we are going to bring to Colchester.
“We know thousands of our supporters will share our frustration that Colchester could lose out at the eleventh hour. This is despite years of negotiations with Colchester Borough Council (CBC), detailed debates in planning committees, public consultations, petitions and an extraordinarily thorough planning appeal.”
CBC had previously turned down the plans twice.
A CBC spokesman said: “While we are aware a number of town centre businesses have applied for a judicial review of the Tollgate Village appeal decision, we have only just received the submitted papers and are taking our own advice. It appears there are a number of disputed legal matters in how the appeal inspector and the Secretary of State reached their decision which those applying for a judicial review are now seeking a judge’s view on.”
Fenwick and Lion Walk are believed to have asked for a judicial review because of an interpretation of the law.
It is thought the High Court papers argue that an interpretation of the sequential test, which sought to see if Tollgate Village would better fit into areas in the town centre such as Vineyard Gate, was incorrect.
Hugo Fenwick, group trading director at Fenwick, said: “As key stakeholders in the town centre, we are all extremely concerned by the rationale of the decision taken by the inspector which was endorsed by the Secretary of State. As this application has been refused (twice) by Colchester Borough Council, and where the inspector recognised that this scheme was directly contrary to the local development plan, it is critical that the decision to uphold the appeal is challenged in the High Court due to the significant impact that will be caused to the commercial and cultural sectors of Colchester town centre, as well as the extraordinary precedent it will set for all town centres across the UK.”
A hearing, to decide whether a judicial review will be held, will take place by the end of the year.