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17th June 2015

Hewitsons secures a hat-trick of successes in the High Court

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Law firm Hewitsons has secured three consecutive judgements in High Court Judicial Reviews against plans for a new supermarket outside the town of Cinderford in Gloucestershire.

Acting on behalf of The Midcounties Co-operative, which has a store in Cinderford’s town centre, Hewitsons argued that in the most recent review, as with the two previous decisions, the local authority’s grant of permission was based on an officer’s report that failed to properly assess the true harm that would be caused to the town centre by shoppers choosing to head to an out-of-town supermarket.

It was stated that these were much of the same errors that led to the High Court repealing the other two planning permissions, with Mr Justice Singh agreeing that the local authority had failed to properly address the concerns raised in previous judgements when granting planning permission for the third time in August 2014.

John Shephard, a partner at Hewitsons LLP, was involved in all three Judicial Reviews. He comments: “Three times we have acted as solicitors for the claimants in the High Court and each time we have achieved success by pointing out numerous flaws in the planning process. In achieving this trio of wins, we could be approaching the rare phenomenon of a planning permission that may never be lawfully made!”

John continues: “Previous cases had failed to properly assess the financial harm of the proposed supermarket on the town centre and whether this harm could be successfully mitigated. However, once again the full impact of the proposed development was not properly set out and there was insufficient evidence of proper mitigation.

“This meant that those involved in the planning decision were not properly informed of the true extent of harm which the proposed development was likely to cause. This was cited by Mr Justice Singh as a key reason why the planning permission was considered to be unlawful and not accepted for the third time.

” Colin Jones, Managing Partner at Hewitsons LLP, is extremely proud of the firm’s three consecutive wins in the High Court. He says: “Quashing a local authority’s grant of planning permission for the same application for the third time is extremely rare, in fact practically unheard of. This demonstrates the excellent job being done by John Shephard and the dispute resolution team in presenting compelling reasons why planning permission should not be granted. This high quality legal expertise is why many of our commercial clients turn to us for difficult cases.”

The planning application for a new supermarket was first granted in 2012, with subsequent hearings at the High Court in 2013 and 2014 quashing the application. The third refusal to grant planning permission occurred on 6th May 2015.

Andrew Stride, Head of Legal Services at Midcounties, says: “We’re naturally delighted with the judgement and the excellent work done by the team to secure three consecutive High Court wins. The help and support from Hewitsons has been vital in achieving these wins, with the level of professionalism and quality of service being extremely high throughout all three cases. We look forward to continuing the positive working relationship with Hewitsons moving forward.”