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High Court battle won't delay £30m Wycombe sports centre
A LEGAL battle between council chiefs and residents at the High Court will not delay the £30m Handy Cross sports centre revamp, officials say.
The Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum is challenging Wycombe District Council before a judge later this month.
The newly formed residents' group is contesting the decision, taken by the Conservative controlled authority, to omit Handy Cross and the old Daws Hill RAF base from its remit.
The purpose of the forum is to give residents powers to shape their area and has come about through the Localism Act, a Conservative policy.
The council's own planning committee approved the sports centre plan in December and Secretary of State Eric Pickles has now confirmed he will not intervene.
The forum and the council will present their cases at the Royal Courts of Justice on February 21 in what is believed to be a groundbreaking case.
However, the sports centre redevelopment will continue, regardless of the outcome.
Council spokesman Sue Robinson said: "The Judicial Review is not about the planning applications which have properly gone through the planning system, but about the extent of a Daws Hill ‘neighbourhood area’.
"The JR will therefore not affect the programme for implementing the planning permission and in particular the building of the replacement Wycombe Sports & Leisure Centre.
"The planning process for the centre will be complete and construction will be committed well before any Neighbourhood Plan could be finalised."
A reserved matters application for the sports centre is expected to be made by the end of February and determined in May with a view to starting work on site by this Autumn, she said.
Plans for Handy Cross include a major new business park, which council bosses have identified as a crucial plank in their economic growth strategy, aiming to create 2,000 jobs in the district by 2016.
But officials stressed that the court case and any possible doubts arising from it are having no bearing on this or indeed on interest from firms considering ploughing in cash.
Mrs Robinson said: "We're continuing to get interest from potential investors who are looking at the 'big picture' and working to longer timescales."
Officials added it is uncertain how much the legal case will cost taxpayers - but admitted it will not be able to recoup the full amount.
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