THE main financial backer of the £90 million Western Sector project in High Wycombe is considering legal action over its funding agreement with the developer because of continuing delays in the project.

Great Portland Estates (GPE) revealed this week that it is looking at litigation because it is concerned over the lack of progress made by developer MAB UK, Wycombe District Council's partner in the scheme.

David James of GPE said on Monday: "We continue to be extremely concerned at the lack of progress on this development and we are taking legal advice."

GPE signed a legally binding two-year agreement with MAB UK in December 1999 to fund the scheme, which includes plans for two major department stores, based upon the development agreement between MAB UK and Wycombe District Council.

The original long-stop date (the final date by which all pre-development conditions must be met), agreed between the council and MAB, was March 29, 2001.

However delays, in particular the court battle over the council's compulsory purchase of Tesco's store, meant that a new long-stop date has now been set by the council and MAB for December 31, this year.

David Easson, managing director of MAB, said: "We were also very disappointed about the delays that arose from the unsuccessful legal challenge by Tesco.

"Since then, MAB has worked closely with our funding partners GPE, to satisfy the conditions within the agreement with Wycombe District Council."