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Flitwick
Friday, 30 July 2021

Plans for Aldi store on strip of Green Belt land in Flitwick town centre resubmitted after legal challenge by retail rival Tesco

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Plans for a discount supermarket in Flitwick have been resubmitted, after a legal challenge from a retail rival scuppered an initial attempt to open the premises.

Aldi obtained planning approval in July for the new store it wants to build on land at 101 Field, Ampthill Road.

But Tesco plc took legal action to seek a judicial review of the decision taken by Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee.

A judge accepted there were arguable legal grounds to hear the case, after Tesco’s objection, according to a social media post by Independent Flitwick councillor Gareth Mackey in December.

The company was concerned CBC failed to take into account fully its comments and observations in the decision-making process, he explained.

This relates solely to the disclosure of advice that officers received during the course of the application from a retail planning consultant and how the council publishes representations from third parties, including Tesco, on its website.

To avoid store wars in the High Court, councillor Mackey said that CBC and Aldi agreed to concede the case because of the judge’s comments and the potential for considerable costs to be awarded against the local authority.

Interested parties, consultees and town councils would receive a further  letter inviting comment on any new application,” he added.

It’s likely that the applicant, Aldi, will wish to make extra submissions to its original planning documents.”

Both Flitwick Town Council and Ampthill Town Council supported the project, on a one-and-a-half acre site, with parking and an access.

The Aldi proposals would create 50 jobs locally and the store could have been completed by this summer.

The planning application was quashed by the High Court on November 18th,” said councillor Mackey in an update message on social media.

The local authority is now required to determine the planning application again.

The applicant has provided amended information and plans, which can be viewed on the council’s website.

We’re told and assured that legal advice will be taken at all steps to ensure there’s no repeat of the technical failures which led to the judicial review.”

The committee’s original verdict was subject to the Secretary of State for housing, communities and local government releasing the area from the Green Belt.

Councillor Mackey said previously: “It’s my feeling there’s a further opportunity to improve the scheme based on concerns I highlighted to the committee at the last hearing.

I remain in support of the plans in general, as I feel the need for more retail choice outweighs the broad arguments against.

But I hope concerns about traffic, noise, pollution, loss of Green Belt and access issues can be addressed and satisfactorily conditioned or mitigated at this stage.

I’m also deeply disappointed that Tesco have chosen this course of action in what could be described as a cynical attempt to avoid competition.”

If the resubmitted application is approved again or refused, the decision of councillors will be open to legal challenge again.

Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency: funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. It’s like a franchise: different companies with different approaches, but using common editorial standards and all publishing into the same system.

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