High Court rejects 2020 Developments' bid for Judicial Review over new Aldi supermarket in Luton

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The long-running saga over plans for a new Aldi supermarket in south Luton has concluded after a legal challenge was thrown out.

A Judicial Review (JR) was sought by 2020 Developments (Luton) Limited over the council’s planning approval for a new Aldi store at Venue 360, off Gipsy Lane.

But 2020 Developments - the company behind Luton Town Football Club - was refused permission for the JR by the High Court Queen’s Bench Division planning court.

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The Hatters had been targeting the site for an indoor sports dome, providing an elite academy at the former Vauxhall Recreation Centre.

Aldi is coming to Gipsy LaneAldi is coming to Gipsy Lane
Aldi is coming to Gipsy Lane

Proposals have just been submitted by the club for an indoor academy training facility on land by Cutenhoe Road.

The failed challenge over the decision to allow the Aldi supermarket to be built also means paying a legal bill of around £13,000.

The written judgement said: “The claimant should note that this claim came close to being certified as wholly without merit.

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“Each of the proposed grounds of challenge has been comprehensively refuted in the acknowledgements of service filed by the defendant and the interested party.”

The Honourable Mr Justice Holgate added: “I am content to adopt the whole of the reasoning advanced by the defendant.”

Aldi expects to create the equivalent of 40 full-time jobs on the former bowling green at Venue 360.

And the supermarket chain said at February’s committee meeting it could still open a branch nearby on the Hatters’ Power Court development.

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An Aldi representative told the committee: “We would certainly consider Power Court.

“The idea we wouldn’t look there is not true. Go up to Aylesbury and you’ll see two of our stores trading very well.

“It’s not just about geography. It’s about catchment and how many residents there are.”

The Aldi store was originally recommended for refusal because it would be contrary to planning policy for developing open space.

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The land stopped being used for bowls in 2000 and later got permission to be used for parking.

After its first approval, the project was referred to a full council meeting by Liberal Democrat group leader and Barnfield councillor David Franks, where it was rejected.

It returned to the committee, while planning officers and the applicant continued to reassess a way forward for the proposals.

Opposing cases to approve and to refuse the development were prepared in a report to the committee in January, when it was deferred.

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Councillors were told in February that “a late objection” had been received on behalf of campaign group Save Our Town.

It considered the supermarket scheme to be “the wrong type of development in the wrong location”, adding that it “would jeopardise the development of Power Court”.

Applicant Ian Jackson, of Hampton Brook (UK) Limited, said granting planning permission would ensure the survival of Venue 360 for the local community and retain around 80 jobs.

The scheme includes 108 car parking spaces, cycle storage and landscaping.