St Modwen v Tesco bout switched to North West

Michael Hunt

A hearing into the plans proposed for the Great Homer Street area, which could affect St Modwen's £150m Project Jennifer scheme, is being moved from London to a North West court.

The move could result in a decision over plans for the area being made within a shorter time frame.

The Project Jennifer scheme has been delayed following the rejection of a rival planning application for a stand-alone Tesco food-store in Great Homer Street by a government planning inspector at the end of last year.

The supermarket operator, which was in talks with St Modwen for four years about being an anchor tenant in the Project Jennifer scheme before they were abandoned, then launched a legal challenge, arguing that the inspector's decision was wrong on a point of law.

Michelle Taylor, regional director at St Modwen, said: "It's great news that the decision will now be made by a court based in the North West. The London courts tend to be the busiest and it would have taken a long time for the Project Jennifer case to be heard.

"Along with the court move, we have formally requested that the High Court brings the ruling as far forward as it can so that the community does not have to wait in limbo.

"It is a frustrating time for all involved. The community has always maintained widespread support for Project Jennifer. It wants a comprehensive scheme which will deliver real change in north Liverpool, benefiting the area for many years to come, something which our development will achieve."

Cllr Peter Millea, executive member for assets and development at Liverpool City Council, added: "We want this matter to be resolved as quickly as possible for the sake of the local community who have clearly shown they want a comprehensive regeneration scheme for the area.

"While there are still legal challenges, Project Jennifer is suffering further delays and the community and local businesses face uncertainty over their future.

"We are asking the Court to deal with this challenge as soon as possible. After that I hope we will be able to carry on with the programme which will bring new homes, jobs, shops and health and community facilities to an area which badly needs them."

St Modwen had planned to start its land assembly process, via a compulsory purchase order, by spring 2010. The developer said it is ready to press ahead with the scheme as soon as the legal challenge is dispatched.

Tesco proposed a foodstore development consisting of more than 80,000 sq ft, with associated petrol station, car parking and landscaping, an indoor market and outdoor market area in Great Homer Street.

However, following a public inquiry early last year, Tesco's application was rejected by planning inspector Phillip Ware.

Liverpool City Council and development partner St Modwen argued that this development would prejudice a comprehensive redevelopment which aims to deliver a district centre with a greater choice of comparison shopping to local people than a free standing foodstore.

In June last year, St Modwen signed Sainsbury's as anchor tenant at its Project Jennifer development a year after talks ended between Tesco and the developer.

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