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."