A shopping centre owner has threatened legal action against Birmingham City Council after it indicated it was set to approve a large superstore store nearby.
Council planners have backed the development of a major Sainsbury’s store on a former car showroom site on the edge of Erdington town centre, but deferred a final decision to tie up the legal issues.
But New River Retail, owner of the Central Square Shopping Centre, which includes Iceland and Specsavers, in Erdington High Street, claims that its site is a better location for a major store and is hoping to block construction.
Director Allan Lockhart told the planning committee that the case for Sainsbury’s was ‘seriously deficient’ and threatened a judicial review if plans go ahead.
He said: “We have chains indicating interest in a 4,600 square metre store at Central Square. The idea that our site is not viable has no substance. Ours is a site at the heart of the High Street and would achieve the best outcome for Erdington.”
But Duncan Mason, speaking on behalf of Sainsbury’s, pointed out that they had been consulting over the former Collier Land Rover site on Sutton Road for two years, and only now were New River Retail coming forward with an alternative.
“The objection was raised very late in the process and there are still no details of the development in Central Square,” he said.
Planning officers added that Central Square does not suit a major store as it would be too overbearing and cause traffic chaos on the High Street.
The Sainsbury’s site is also only on the edge of the town centre area, rather than out of town.
But councillors asked for further assurances that the council could defend a legal challenge from New River Retail.
Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) said: “We need an impact assessment of the viability and vitality of Erdington town centre going forward ten years. If we don’t do it properly then our decision could be overturned.”
The planning committee agreed to the Sainsbury’s store on condition that their legal case is ‘fireproof’.
They fear that legal action could hold up the regeneration of Erdington just as legal wrangles have prevented the development of a store in Stirchley for a decade