BREAKING NEWS: Sainsbury’s within a whisker of High Court as they accuse minority within Fenland Council of manipulating planning process

SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s revealed tonight they are within a whisker of taking Fenland District Council to the High Court- and with it the potential of a multi million pound law suit.

The company stepped up its legal challenge over ‘supermarket-gate’ by insisting they are immediately issued with documents allowing them to build a new store in Eastrea Road, Whittlesey.

Robert Oxley, the company’s development executive, said: “Sainsbury’s never likes to take a high-handed legal approach. But I’m afraid we just cannot stand by and watch a minority of individuals in Fenland Council manipulate the planning process so as to deny us the planning permission voted for in committee and called for by the majority of Whittlesey residents.

“I just hope the councillors see sense and instruct officers to issue our planning permission.”

An email has gone to all Fenland councillors tonight from Sainsbury’s outlining their grievance.

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It concludes with the statement that “impartial observers cannot help but wonder why the decision to subsequently approve Tesco and then take both applications back to committee was taken and what unseen forces are shaping them.

“The situation is bringing Fenland Council into disrepute and I would urge you to act now and take the steps necessary to put this matter right by issuing the Sainsbury’s planning permission.”

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In their toughest stance to date, Sainsbury’s – buoyed by planning committee members such as Councillor Dave Patrick who says he has already voted for them twice and so therefore see no need for a fresh vote- insist on four other conditions being met.

Sainsbury’s says they will go ahead with a judicial review of the council’s handling of the supermarket applications unless their consent is immediately given and other conditions are met.

The company wants:

a) publication of the external legal advice received by Fenland Council and the instructions that informed it

b) Halt all further action to re-determine their planning application

c) Acknowledge that the decision to grant Sainsbury’s permission on August 29- ratified also on September 19- and also to refuse the Tesco bid for Eastrea at the August meeting, remain valid

d) The Tesco application – submitted by Harrier Developments- be returned to the planning committee to ratify the reasons for refusal.

The solicitor’s letter to Fenland Council says the resolution at the planning committee to reverse an earlier decision and allow a Tesco store adjacent to their store at Eastrea Road “was flawed.

“Consequently the council’s current intention of starting again and taking both applications to committee again in the New Year is unjustified.”

Mr Oxley said the failure by Fenland Council to disclose the legal advice it is relying upon “makes it impossible for any interested party to properly understand the decision.”

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