Court battle over future of Scunthorpe retail park and new Marks and Spencer store
THE future of the planned Marks and Spencer-led retail park on the outskirts of Scunthorpe will be battled out in court next week.
A judicial review into the proposed development on Doncaster Road, which would also include a Debenhams store and possibly a River Island, will be heard at Leeds Administrative Court on Monday.
And both the developers and their opponents say that whatever the decision, it will have a massive impact on the town.
In March, North Lincolnshire Council awarded Simons Developments permission for the five-unit scheme at the site of Stephen Smith's Garden Centre.
Book a table for 2 and get £5 off with this voucher. When ringing quote: “This is Scunthorpe” promotion.
Terms: Cannot be used with any other offers or vouchers. Your email address.......................... (if you want to receive vouchers in the future). Print voucher or show us the voucher on your phone.
Contact: 01724 281289
Valid until: Monday, June 24 2013
The development was due to begin in October, however it was thrown into jeopardy after the legal review was launched. Those in favour say it will create around 300 jobs and new shops, while opponents say it could deal a hammer blow to town centre trade.
The three-day hearing is a legal challenge brought by Threadneedle Investments, which owns The Foundry Shopping Centre.
But Chris Newsome, development director for Simons, the group behind the plans, said the project was popular with locals.
"Our plans for a new retail park on Doncaster Road have enjoyed widespread support from the local community throughout," he said.
"The proposals have already been approved twice by North Lincolnshire Council's planning committee and the overwhelming feedback we have received is that the jobs, investment and increased retail choice is what the people of Scunthorpe want and need.
"This will be a £25m investment and we hope to get the green light at the inquiry."
Mr Newsome previously told the Telegraph that a restaurant or other non-shop business could fill one of the remaining units at the site, but said the developer was "still looking at all options".
Threadneedle bosses were remaining tight-lipped in advance of the hearing.
A spokeswoman for Threadneedle said: "Due to legal reasons, we are unable to comment at this stage."
The hearing, which will be before Mr Justice Hickinbottom, is a challenge against the process by which the decision has been arrived at.
In judicial reviews, most issues are dealt with on paper by lawyers making representations.
The procedure will see both sides outline their case before the judge makes a decision.
Court officials say it may well be after Christmas when the judgement is made.
A spokesman for North Lincolnshire Council said: "North Lincolnshire Council's planning committee gave approval for the Simons scheme. Now there is of course a judicial review, for which we await the outcome after the hearing next week."
Judy Bradley, of the Scunthorpe Forward Group, said the town was lucky to be given such an opportunity and was not in a position to turn down the number of jobs it would create.
Mrs Bradley said: "I think if you don't get it then this will be the demise of the town, but if we get it then it could be the saviour.
"At present, it is sad to see so many times that people go to Lincoln to shop at M&S."
A spokesman for the Keep Scunthorpe Alive group said: "The comments made by Simons and the Scunthorpe Forward Group are focussing on the fallacy of a £20 million investment and the speculation of creating hundreds of jobs.
"This clearly is not true, there will not be 300 jobs, if there were then 75 per cent of them would be part-time.
"All job creation is welcome, whether part or full-time, but nobody has taken in to account the number of jobs that will be lost in the town centre and surrounding area."
The Telegraph will be at each day of the hearing and readers can get daily updates here at thisisscunthorpe.co.uk