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Campaigners rule out further appeal over redevelopment of football ground

Campaigners who sought to have the planning permission for the redevelopment of Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Ground quashed have ruled out taking the case to the Court of Appeal on costs grounds.

In Trashorfield Ltd, R (on the application of) v Bristol City Council & Ors [2014] EWHC 757 the claimants advanced three grounds of challenge:

  1. The Planning Committee at Bristol City Council approved the application on the basis of a misunderstanding of the evidence and advice of the council's own retail consultants as to the extent of the impact on the town centre, which was a material – critical, even – consideration in the determination of the application.
  2. The Planning Committee approved the application only on the basis that specified measures to mitigate the retail impact of the proposal and ensure required compliance with relevant regulations would be identified, agreed with relevant parties and incorporated into the section 106 Agreement; and it authorised the council's officer under delegated powers to grant planning permission only on that basis. The section 106 agreement did not contain such specified measures. Consequently, the grant of planning permission was (i) not in compliance with the relevant regulations and (ii) ultra vires the Planning Committee's authorisation.
  3. The Planning Committee's summary reasons incorrectly stated that the application complied with the particular policy in the Bristol Local Plan that protected the site for use as a sports stadium.

The council and the football club opposed all grounds. In a ruling last month, Mr Justice Hickinbottom dismissed the application on grounds 1 and 2 and refused the permission to proceed on ground 3.

In a statement released this week, TRASHorfield said it would not be taking its case to the Court of Appeal.

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The group said: “It has not been possible in the short time allowed by Judge Hickinbottom to raise the tens of thousands of pounds necessary to test his judgment and so, despite legal opinion that the judgment is flawed it will remain unchallenged.

“We are no longer appealing the lawfulness of the decision-making process however the adverse impacts of the Sainsbury’s development cannot be disputed and are irreversible.”

Building of a new store at the Memorial Stadium would fund Bristol Rovers’ move to a new site in Frenchay.

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