High Court challenge to Sainsbury’s by rival developer as Street Life website petition launched to offer them support

Whittlesey 'supermarket-gate'

Whittlesey 'supermarket-gate' - Credit: Archant

A High Court judge will now decide the fate of a superstore in Whittlesey after Fenland Council was served with a judicial review claim form.

Manea based Harrier Developments had to wait until all the technical details of a rival- and successful- bid were in position before going ahead with their legal challenge.

Sainsbury’s has permission to develop a country park, supermarket and commercial centre in Eastrea Road after winning planning consent from Fenland Council.

However Richard Sears of Harrier, who submitted a rival bid with the expectation of providing an adjacent site for Tesco, has decided not to accept the decision without challenging it in the courts.

Earlier this year he claimed the decision to approve the adjacent site for Sainsbury’s was “unlawful and susceptible to judicial review.”

Now, with March based Whitacre having gained planning consent, Mr Sears is set to ask a judge to rule on whether the decision was lawful.

“Yes, we have been served with the Judicial Review claim form and are currently reviewing it,” said a Fenland Council spokesman. “The process is that we have 21 days in which to assess the claim and file an ‘acknowledgment of service’. The deadline for that is Friday, April 25.”

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Sainsbury’s say they will fight the review and, if successful, plan an early start on their store.

Meanwhile Martin Harris of Whittlesey has begun an on line petition in support of the Sainsbury’s scheme.

His petition was launched today on the Street Life website and by mid afternoon had 45 signatures – he says his target is to get 2,000 names on board.

His petition says that if Harrier’s judicial review is successful it would “destroy all of the hopes we have had for Whittlesey and worked for over the last three years and what has been achieved by the people of Whittlesey.”

He says the review has put Sainsbury’s on hold “until a judge decides if the challenge has any merits”.

Mr Harris adds: “We need Harrier Developments and Richard Sears to realise that this development is one the people of Whittlesey want, and they should stop any objections now.”

Although Tesco decided not to appeal against the council’s decision, it is still expected they would return to the Harrier ‘table’ if a legal challenge were to succeed. Tesco has permission for a store in Benwick Road, Whittlesey but Eastrea Road might easily be supported again as their preferred location.

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