Controversial plans to build a supermarket at a retail park could be subject to a judicial review, it has been warned.
Hyndburn Council yesterday gave the go-ahead for the Peel Group to build an Aldi food store at Whitebirk Retail Park in a scheme which would create 40 jobs.
The application was strongly opposed by Hyndburn Chamber of Trade, Blackburn with Darwen Council and owners of The Mall in Blackburn who claim it was impact on nearby town centres, including Accrington.
However councillors unanimously voted in favour of the proposals.
A legal agreement currently restricts the site to selling white goods and will be lifted for the application. The decision could now set to be ‘called in’ by the Secretary of State for Local Government after a letter was submitted by Blackburn with Darwen Council and could also be considered for a judicial review.
Simon Prideaux, chief planning officer at Hyndburn Council, said the scheme ‘represents sustainable development’ and would ‘not have an unacceptable adverse impact on Accrington and Blackburn town centres’.
However Gavin Prescott, planning manager at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said it ‘clearly conflicts’ with council’s planning policies and said all food retail should be focused within Accrington town centre.
He told the meeting: “The Peel site is the wrong site for a food store or any other type of retailing other than bulky goods which had been accepted previously by a planning inspector at an inquiry.
“A food store at Peel will draw trade away from existing businesses in Hyndburn and Blackburn, particularly where they are fragile, and this is even more apparent now with the recent closure of M&S in Accrington town centre. Having received counsel advice it is difficult to see how this application can be approved. Because of this there is the possibility that any approval could open the council up to a lengthy and expensive legal challenge.”
Will Blake, representing The Mall in Blackburn, said approval could open the floodgates to more non-bulky good stores coming forward with plans for the site.
Gareth Finch, planning manager at Peel Group, said changes have been made to improve accessibility and there is ‘no actual evidence’ that the store would affect local town centres.