Ian Hunt (left) with planning committee chairman Councillor Phil Hatton at the decision making committee last month.

Harrier test grounds for appeal as Fenland Council prepares for Government submission of Whittlesey supermarket decisions

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
1.25 PM

SUPERMARKET bidder Harrier Development Ltd, who lost out to rivals for the right to build a new store in Eastrea Road, Whittlesey, hope to have found a loophole to keep their hopes alive.

The Manea based firm run by Richard Sears revealed they are to appeal against Fenland District Council’s refusal to allow them to build a store for Tesco next to that approved for Sainsbury’s.

Harrier has claimed that Fenland Council failed to deal with their application within prescribed time limits and have appealed on the grounds of “non determination”.

Records kept at Fenland Hall show Harrier first applied to build along Eastrea Road in May, 2011 and that a decision ought to have been made by September of that year.

However it took nearly 18 months longer- and an embittered scrap with rival developer Whitacre Management Ltd on behalf of Sainsbury’s- for Harrier to get the thumbs down.

The appeal was revealed by Graham Nourse, head of planning, and Ian Hunt, chief solicitor, in a two page briefing to councillors.

The statement said delays in issuing formal notices of approval and rejection following the January 23 planning committee was to enable legal opinion to be sought.

“Time has therefore been spent with our legal advisors to ensure that the content of the notices is both comprehensive and correct,” said the statement.

“This is a vitally important process given the scrutiny that will undoubtedly be applied to all of the decisions.”

Decisions reached by the council last month will shortly be sent to the Government’s national planning casework unit and for ministers to decide if they should be ‘called in’. It’s unlikely but if they are then a public inquiry will follow.

The briefing note says officers are looking at Harrier’s recent actions “and we have yet to determine if this is a valid appeal. Harrier has also raised the threat of judicial review in reference to the other applications.”

Both Mr Hunt and Mr Nourse said they would be happy to meet councillors to discuss what is “a complex and detailed process”.