New supermarket plan faces judicial review


Sainsbury's - Credit: Sub

A DECISION to grant planning permission to a supermarket in a Somerset village could be challenged in the High Court.

Sedgemoor District Council offered Sainsbury’s planning permission to build a store on land at Steart Farm in Wedmore Road in Cheddar last February, subject to section 106 agreements.

Since then, Sainsbury’s and council officers have been trying to settle on the exact terms of the agreement, which is where a developer provides money to benefit the community.

This could include Sainsbury’s paying for subsidised parking and money for village centre shops.

However, on Tuesday, the authority’s development control committee took note of a letter, believed to be from Budgens in Roynon Way, Cheddar, which says there are grounds for a potential judicial review for the decision.

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The letter says the council failed to take retail advice and relevant policies into account and reached a ‘perverse conclusion’ on the impact the store would have on other retailers in the area.

A council spokesman said a judicial review can only be launched up to six weeks after section 106 agreements have been agreed - but councillors, officers and Sainsbury’s are yet to settle on the terms almost one year on.

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Council officer Leila Nicholson said: “I think we have been informed Budgens will be putting forward a judicial review but they cannot do that until a planning decision has been issued and that’s not happening yet because of the 106 agreement.

“They will have to wait until that has been signed.”

She said councillors debated the agreements for the store and concluded they needed to be more flexible about how the money is spent.

She said: “For example, if X amount was put forward for shop fronts, if they don’t think that amount of money will be needed, it could be diverted to somewhere else.”

The 106 agreement has now been given back to the council’s legal team and planning officers for further consultation with ward councillors.

Ben Littman, Sainsbury’s regional development manager, said: “Since permission for our store was granted last year, we have been working hard on the details of the store application, including the section 106 contributions.

“Many people have told us how much they are looking forward to having a Sainsbury’s store in Cheddar.

“We remain absolutely committed to bringing our quality offer to Cheddar and hope to be on site next year.”

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