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BUDGEN REVIEW CHALLENGE TO BRECKLAND DC FAILS

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A legal battle between rival supermarket chains for the wallets and purses of shoppers in a small Norfolk town has ...
A legal battle between rival supermarket chains for the wallets and purses of shoppers in a small Norfolk town has ended in a high court victory for Sainsbury's.

Mr Justice Owen dismissed a legal challenge by Budgens Stores Ltd which could have scuppered Sainsbury's plans to build a supermarket in Attleborough High Street.

The judge ruled Budgens had left it too late to launch its judicial review challenge to the decision by Breckland DC in November last year

to approve Sainsbury's scheme for a 15,000 square feet store.

He remarked that the opening of the Sainsbury's store was likely to mean closure of the town's Co-op supermarket.

Budgens' plans to expand its existing store in Queen's Road from 5,000 to nearly 12,000 square feet, which were approved by the council at the same time as Sainsbury's proposals, are also in jeopardy as all agree the town only has retail capacity for one large supermarket.

The judge said that last year the council's planning committee was presented with four schemes to build supermarkets in the town from Budgens, which 'at present operate the largest food store in Attleborough', Sainsbury's, Tesco's and SPC Ltd.

The Tesco plan for a 14,500 square feet supermarket on a Budgens-owned freehold site in Queens Road had been the last to be submitted and, prior to the company's application, the local authority commissioned a planning report into the viability of the Budgens and Sainsbury schemes.

Planning consultants concluded there were 'advantages and disadvantages' in the Budgens and Sainsbury plans and on November 10 last year the committee resolved that the council's director of planning and building control be authorised to issue approvals

for both of them.

'It was further resolved that the Tesco application be deferred to await further detailed information,' the judge said.

Budgen's sought to challenge the committee's resolution on the grounds that the Tesco proposal was a 'material consideration' that should have been taken into account.

'Budgens argue that the report indicates the disadvantages of the High Street site and the necessity to consider whether the Queen's Road site could accommodate the need. Accordingly they argue it is necessary to consider the Tesco proposal,' the judge said.

He added that Budgens had 'an arguable case' that the decisions were invalid because the planning committee could not have known 'whether the Tesco proposal, which was apparently a genuine proposal, could be accommodated.'

But the judge said he was dismissing the company's application because of its delay in bringing the case to court.

The application for leave to seek judicial review was not made until January this year and should have been made more promptly, he ruled.

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