Comments (59) Bristol Rovers’ new £40million stadium is back on track after a legal challenge was dismissed by a High Court judge today.Mr Justice Hickinbottom rejected a judicial review which was brought by campaign group TRASHorfield against a new supermarket at the club’s current ground.The club needs the new Sainsbury’s store to go ahead at the Mem to help with the funding of the new 21,700-seat stadium at Stoke Gifford.It now remains to be seen whether TRASHorfield will appeal against the judge’s ruling.But this is considered unlikely because of the high costs involved in taking a case to the Court of Appeal and due to the fact that TRASHorfield would have to find a loophole in the judge’s decision.The judge announced his finding in a hearing at the High Court in Redcliffe Street, Bristol, this afternoon.It followed a one-day hearing last week in which TRASHorfield argued that councillors had been mis-led by a planning officers’ report before making their decision to give consent for the new store.If there is no further appeal, then the club is in a race against time to complete all of its contractural arrangements with the construction companies, the city council, Bristol UWE and Sainsbury’s in time for work to start in the summer.If construction work starts within the next few months, then it is possible for the new stadium to be ready in time for the start of the 2015/16 season.
TRASHorfield say they are "profoundly disappointed". In a statement they said: "We will carefully review the details of the judgement before making an announcement regarding any further action in due course."Importantly, we would like to acknowledge the tremendous support we have received from the local community for this campaign. "Our thanks extend to the thousands of you who have campaigned with us, stood by and encouraged us, and shown unwavering solidarity to the campaign. "We also thank you all for the very many donations that made it possible to finance and pursue this critical democratic process."What was TRASHorfield’s case?The legal challenge boiled down to a short phrase in the planning officers’ report to councillors which said the economic health of Gloucester Road was good and would continue to be so after the store was built.Mr Daniel Kolinsky, for TRASHorfield, said the words, “set to continue to be good” were misleading because a consultants’ report never said anything of the kind - it outlined the negative impacts of a new store on existing traders in Gloucester Road.He said the consultants’ report, which was commissioned by the council, was therefore not properly taken into account.Mr James Findlay QC, for the city council which was contesting the legal challenge, said it was right and proper for the planning officers’ report to be taken in its entirety and not for it to be picked over in such forensic detail.He said that by taking the report in the round, the planning officers had made it perfectly clear what the negative impacts were and that mitigating measures could be taken to offset them.He said that before councillors made a decision at a committee meeting in public, they were able to ask questions or raise any concerns that they may have had.How much has it cost in legal fees?As the judicial review has only finished today, the lawyers have not yet had time to submit their bills to their respective clients.We do know that it will run into tens of thousands of pounds but how much will fall on council taxpayers is not yet clear.Leading TRASHorfield campaigner Daniella Radice revealed in November last year that if they lost, then the amount they would have to pay the council was agreed would be capped at £10,000.The club had their own lawyer to represent them but their legal fees have not been disclosed.Sainsbury’s were not legally represented during the judicial hearing but they would have needed to have take their own legal advice.
— Bristol Rovers (@Official_BRFC) March 20, 2014