Judge allows full hearing over Winchester development plan changes

A High Court judge has granted a Winchester man the right to a full hearing of his legal challenge against a development agreement for a regeneration scheme in the town after the local authority approved significant changes to initial plans for the development.

Winchester (pic Herry Lawford via flickr)
Winchester (pic Herry Lawford via flickr)

Kim Gottlieb yesterday won the right to have his day in court over his claims that changes made to decade-old plans for the Silver Hill area of Winchester were so significant that the local council should have put the whole scheme out to tender again.

He says that, in approving the alterations in July to a 2004 development agreement, the council breached its "public procurement" duties under European law.

Among the changes approved by the council were the replacement of a planned bus station with a large department store with an on-street bus interchange to form part of the development instead.

It also slashed the number of homes to be provided, from 287 to 177, and removed developer Silverhill Winchester No. 1 Ltd's commitment to provide affordable housing as part of its scheme.

The number of car parking spaces was also reduced, from 330 to 279.

Gottlieb says that these changes were "material" and that, as a result, European law required the council to put the revised scheme out to tender, to allow other developers to compete for it.

Yesterday a judge ruled that he had an "arguable" point, in what he said was clearly a "significant" case.

Mr Justice Lindblom ruled that the full hearing, to take place over two days in London, should be scheduled as soon as possible so that there is no undue delay to justice in the matter. It is likely to be heard in January.

The council maintains that it has absolute discretion to approve variations under the development agreement, and that as a result this did not constitute a "new contract" that would trigger its public procurement obligations.

It granted the developer planning permission in 2009 and then made a compulsory purchase order two years later in order to secure all the land required.

Gottlieb v Winchester City Council. Case Number: CO/4150/2014

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