High Court dismisses attempt to halt Colchester development
A bid by a rival developer to block development of the Northern Gateway scheme in Colchester has failed.
Tollgate Partnership, which is promoting the Tollgate Village development in Stanway, had applied for a judicial review of Colchester Borough Council’s approval of the Northern Gateway project.
Tollgate argued that the council’s backing of the scheme, put forward by Turnstone Estates, was based on incorrect application of the National Planning Policy Framework’s (NPPF) sequential test for town-centre uses.
However, Tollgate’s application, lodged in April, was rejected at the High Court.
The Northern Gateway scheme, proposed for a council-owned site close to Colchester United’s football stadium, features an 80-bed hotel, 12-screen cinema and almost 8,000 square metres of restaurant and leisure space. It was approved by the council in July last year.
In contrast, Tollgate Village was only approved by the secretary of state the following month in a recovered-appeal decision after the council had twice refused it permission.
Advice from the consultancy Lichfields, taken by the council as part of its consideration of the NPPF’s sequential test while tackling the Northern Gateway application, concluded the Tollgate Village scheme was sequentially preferable but “highly specific to a named operator” and “would be unviable for the mix of uses proposed” – hence it could be discounted.
In turn, council planning officers declared: “The [Northern Gateway] proposal is considered to meet the sequential test as no suitable alternative site can be demonstrated.”
In rejecting the application for a judicial review, Mr Justice Holgate ruled that planning policies had been correctly applied by the council and awarded it £8,500 costs.
Tim Young, of Colchester Borough Council, said: “This ruling confirms that the council’s advice to the planning committee was sound and appropriate, and was based on the correct interpretation of planning policy and case law.”