High Court legal challenge delays start on superstore work at Felixstowe

Land off Railway Approach in Felixstowe where a new 30,000sq ft superstore is to be built.

Land off Railway Approach in Felixstowe where a new 30,000sq ft superstore is to be built. - Credit: Archant

Developers have given an assurance that an approved multi-million pound superstore on a town centre site will be built – despite competitors’ claims to the contrary.

Consent was given for the 30,000sq ft supermarket in Railway Approach, Felixstowe, 16 months ago but no work has started on site and the Retail Development Partnership, which is behind the venture, has not announced an operator for the store.

Meanwhile, Cranford Developments has resubmitted its scheme for an £18million 20,000sq ft Asda store, filling station and 164-space car park at Haven Exchange, off the Dock Gate One roundabout.

Suffolk Coastal councillors refused permission for the Asda – which it is claimed could create 200 new jobs – when they chose the railway station store, but the proposals will come before councillors again next week.

Cranford Developments claim they should be given permission because there is no sign of the railway site scheme starting.

When councillors chose the most suitable site for a superstore for the resort, they also rejected a Tesco at Walton Green. The Walton Green Partnership also contended the station store would not be built because of the construction costs of a store with car parking below and trolley-bearing escalators.

However, the Retail Development Partnership is confident it will be able to build its superstore but at the moment is facing a High Court challenge to its proposals.

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David Prichard, of Marrons Planning, on behalf of the Retail Development Partnership, said: “Following the grant of planning permission for my clients’ development, legal action has been initiated by the East of England Co-operative Society contending that part of the land granted permission to my client for the development of a convenience goods foodstore should be the subject of a restrictive covenant preventing its development for that purpose.

“No such restrictive covenant is registered against the land in question with the Land Registry and my client is therefore actively contesting the legal action of the Co-op.”

The matter was due to be dealt with by the Property Chamber First Tier Tribunal, but has now been referred to the High Court. The case is expected to be heard this year.

Mr Prichard said: “The sole reason why development of the Railway Approach site has not proceeded is therefore as a result of the legal challenge to the development made by the Co-op.”

He remained confident the court will find in his clients’ favour and the regeneration of the site take place.

Suffolk Coastal chose the site – also supported by the town council – because it was felt it would have less impact on the town centre shopping area than the out-of-town Tesco and Asda proposals and that people would visit local shops before or after doing their main food shop.

The town council is also in favour of the Asda project and while Suffolk Coastal officers concede there is little opposition, they remain of the view – having taken lawyers’ advice – that should the resort end up with two more superstores, this would have a huge impact on the town centre’s viability.

In a report to next week’s meeting, case officer Liz Beighton again recommends refusal of the Asda and says “whilst recognising the benefits that would accrue, officers do not believe that there are sufficient grounds or policy support at this time to recommend approval”.

She said: “Officers consider that it is impossible to unequivocally conclude that in just one year from the grant of planning permission in September 2013 that the Railway Approach site is not capable of delivering a foodstore as planned.”

A spokeswoman for the East of England Co-op said: “At this stage we can confirm that we are defending a case in Felixstowe brought against us by a third party.”