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New Next store prompts Eden shopping centre to take legal action against the council which helped create it. And it could cost taxpayer over £40,000
EDEN is taking the council which helped to create it to the High Court - leaving taxpayers facing a £41,000 bill.
The £300million shopping centre has filed legal papers against Wycombe District Council over its decision to allow Next to build a store in Cressex.
Eden, opened five years ago, was created as part of the town's £500 million regeneration programme in partnership with Wycombe District Council.
But now, Eden bosses are trying to take WDC to The High Court.
This has already cost Wycombe taxpayers £9,180, with another £32,700 on the horizon if it goes to a full hearing.
The seeking of a judicial review was revealed on Monday night at a WDC meeting.
Eden is yet to comment on the matter.
WDC Leader Cllr Richard Scott said: "Eden are concerned with potential impact of the proposal on the town centre.
"They allege that the granted permission is unlawful and have applied for permission to be quashed."
It is not yet clear which aspect of the permission is alleged to be unlawful.
Next were granted permission to build an 'iconic' home and garden store at Cressex in June.
Catherine Spalton, WDC spokesman, said: "The council’s defence has been served and Next have also responded as an interested party.
"The papers will go before a Judge for a decision on whether the claimants have put forward an arguable case for judicial review of the council’s grant of planning permission for the Next site. If so, the matter will go to full hearing in due course."
Chris Watson, chairman of the Wycombe Society’s Planning Committee, said the group would back Eden’s pursuit of a Judicial Review.
Mr Watson, formerly a Tory WDC councillor and cabinet member, said: "We would be in favour of it.
"Eden spoke against the Next application at the initial planning meeting.
"We also spoke against it on all factors as it is going to cause problems; the architecture is terrible and not in keeping with the other buildings already there, car-parking is inappropriate - it’s a whole range of things.
"The Wycombe Society is certainly disapproving of the application so we cannot do anything other than support others that wish to pursue it."
Regarding the cost of the review, he said:"It’s difficult; the council knew it was going to be a problem. Any development proposal for that land seems to result in members thinking that they have to let it through because ‘something is better than nothing’.
"I take a different position on that but perhaps it’s easier for me looking for the outside in to take a purist’s attitude."
WDC has recently had to fork out £25,900 fighting another judicial review over development at Daws Hill, with a further £25,000 anticipated for defending a court of appeal case in 2014.
Gary Saunders, who runs Wycombe Market, would not comment on the Next application. But he said out of town shopping is a long-term problem and fears it has gone too far to rein back in.
He added: "High streets will have to change, they are never going to be the retail centres they used to be and people would perhaps like them to be.
"Out of town centres were always a disaster waiting to happen. There needs to be joined up thinking with town planning but I fear it is now a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted."
Next has yet to comment.
The 7,261sq meter flagship Next store is planned for the site of the park-and-ride at Cressex Island, creating 220 new jobs.
The company will provide a new bus service linking the site to Wycombe and will pay £1.34m for town centre upgrades.
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