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Council victorious in London Road High Court battle

Controversial regeneration project on track after judge rules in council's favour

Dan Cooper

Reporter:

Dan Cooper

Contact:

01635 886632

Council tax set to rise by four per cent from April

CONTROVERSIAL plans to regenerate the London Road Industrial Estate look set to move ahead after the High Court ruled West Berkshire Council did not act illegally by signing an agreement with developer St Modwen.

Following a two-day judicial review hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London last month, a judge has today thrown out the legal challenge from rival developer Faraday Developments Limited.

In 2009, the council granted outline planning permission to developer Faraday Developments Limited (FDL) to carry out its own 'Faraday Plaza' scheme for 300 homes, but planning permission lapsed in 2012.

FDL submitted an identical application which the council then refused but a Planning Inspector later ruled that decision was wrong and that council officers had  'misled' councillors into rejecting it.

Then, in 2014, the council signed a development agreement with developer St Modwen, which has formed the basis for FDL's legal challenge.

FDL claimed that by entering into a contract with St Modwen, the council had failed to obtain the best consideration  for the disposal of its interests in land and/or that it had unlawfully failed to comply with the public procurement regime.

But a West Berkshire Council press release issued today says the High Court has thrown out the challenge and ruled thrown out the legal challenge after finding:

. That the council had self-evidently had its obligations to achieve the best price reasonably obtainable firmly in mind in advance of and throughout the process, that its decision to award the contract to St Modwen was rational, and that there was no substance in the criticism made by Faraday Development Limited;  

. That arguments run by Faraday Development Limited were “wholly fallacious” and “speculative…at best” and that criticisms made of the council were “wholly untenable”

. That the agreement between the council and St Modwen does not fall within the public procurement regime and the council acted lawfully in structuring the procurement process in the way that it did.

Speaking after the decision councillor James Fredrickson, the Executive Member for Corporate Services & External Affairs, said: “We are delighted with this outcome.

"After a full review of the council’s actions, the court has concluded that the claims brought against the council are ‘wholly fallacious’.

"It is extremely disappointing that  Faraday Development Ltd chose to bring criticisms against the council that have been found to be ‘wholly untenable’ by the court. 

"The court ruling now allows us to fully recover legal costs from Faraday Development Ltd ; we owe it to taxpayers to ensure that they do not foot the bill for such a speculative legal challenge."

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Article comments

  • NewburyKnight

    29/08/2016 - 06:06

    Excellent news! The Council have taken huge flak for forking out the legal fees - but turns out they were right to do so. Now let's get on with the work.

    Reply

  • HeartNewbz

    28/08/2016 - 13:01

    People are tired of your screaming in the press. You had your day in court... and clearly lost. There's nothing wrong with the Council looking to develop an area to generate income! We would all prefer that to cutting services. Go lick your wounds 'crooked crook'.

    Reply

  • FaradayPlaza

    27/08/2016 - 17:05

    For 11 years FDL has worked tirelessly to regenerate the gateway to Newbury, to which we remain totally committed. Our initiative has achieved broad public support and was hailed by the Council as a catalyst for further improvement & an exemplar. The Plaza fits with the Council's regeneration aspiration. Our legal challenge was on legitimate and principled grounds and in the interest of anyone who opposes secretive decision making, which is unfortunately often a hallmark in West Berkshire Council. It has taken this case to uncover the truth, including the Council's main objective to maximise their own financial gain irrespective of the impact on local employers and that they have no control over whether or not St Modwen carries out any regeneration at all. The Council must reimburse many costs incurred by St Modwen, even if no regeneration occurs. With respect to HeartNewbz is mistaken to assert that FDL is attempting to derail the process. Quite the opposite. #faradaydevelopment

    Reply

    • Bombey

      27/08/2016 - 18:06

      maybe you should have built your vision when you got planning permission back in 2009....

      Reply

      • FaradayPlaza

        28/08/2016 - 10:10

        Would that we could have. We tried in earnest to build out our scheme, but after wholeheartedly supporting the initiative, in 2014 the Council changed its position and has since gone to extraordinary measures to block it. This includes unlawfully refusing the renewal of our planning permission in 2012, which after a four year battle was granted at appeal in February with a full award of costs. The Inspector's report is very damning of the Council. Despite this we have continued to try to work positively with the Council - I encourage you to read Faraday Development's new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/faradaydevelopmentlimited/, which will be populated with information over time.

        Reply

        • Bombey

          04/09/2016 - 18:06

          2009 - 2014 that's 5 years.........as I said, you should have built it when you got the green light....

          Reply

    • Bombey

      27/08/2016 - 18:06

      maybe you should have built your vision when you got planning permission back in 2009....

      Reply

  • HeartNewbz

    27/08/2016 - 16:04

    Absolutely disgusting that a developer who didn't get the contract has blatantly tried to scupper the entire project! Sour grapes indeed! I hope the council get every penny back!

    Reply

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