Development company Jackson Projects are fighting an Essex County Council compulsory purchase notice forcing them t...
Development company Jackson Projects are fighting an Essex County Council compulsory purchase notice forcing them to give up a plot of land next to a planned superstore development
The dispute over an access road threatens to leave 'completely landlocked' the proposed site of a Safeway superstore near the village of Little Tendring, London's High Court heard. And if the row continues the developers behind the superstore scheme, Carter Commercial Developments Ltd, may be left to face losses running into millions, said Roy Vandermeer QC.
The case revolves around a 'slither' of land, known as Plot 129, owned by rival developers Jackson Projects Ltd, over which Carter Commercial are desperate to build an access road.
The council has already taken possession of the plot and has agreed with Carter Commercial that, once the compulsory acquisition is complete, the company's contractors will be allowed onto the site to build the access road, the High Court heard. Jackson Projects insists that the council has no power to compulsorily acquire plot 129 for the purpose of building an access road. Mr Vandermeer, for Carter Commercial, said the company had won planning permission for the superstore on land it owns to the south of Plot 129 after a hard-fought and lengthy public inquiry last year. Only in the final stages of the public inquiry before an Environment Ministry Inspector which lasted several months had Jackson Projects come forward with its present objection to the compulsory purchase notice. Jackson Projects had kept their objection 'up their sleeves' until after the planning process had reached an advanced stage, he said. There had at one stage been no less than four rival proposals for retail development in the area, all on sites so close together 'you would have trouble putting a knife between them', said Mr Vandermeer. Before the access problem raised its head, Mr Vandermeer said Carter Commercial had been 'confident' of closing a deal with Safeway to operate a superstore on the site. With good prospects of the development proceeding, the company had agreed to contribute £1 million towards the cost of building the A133 Little Clacton to Weeley Heath By-pass, the court heard. But Mr Vandermeer said Jackson Projects' objections suddenly raised the prospect that Carter Commercial's deal with Safeway would be 'frustrated'. Access problems were the kiss of death to retail development schemes and, if the row over Plot 129 continued, Carter Commercial's site could end up 'completely landlocked', he told the court. The company's plans had been left under a 'considerable cloud' and, if Safeway refused to sign, there was a danger that no other operator could be found for the site. With the future of the development in doubt, there was also a risk that other planning permissions for other retail developments in the area might be granted, greatly reducing the value of Carter Commercial's exclusive position. The hearing continues.