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Bristol Rovers stadium back on track after judge rejects TRASHorfield's judicial review

By IanOnions  |  Posted: March 20, 2014

An artist's impression of the proposed Sainsbury's store in Horfield

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.

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  • MichaelRooney  |  March 23 2014, 1:56PM

    I am genuinely concerned Sparkygas. Nick Higgs made his money by constructing buildings which other people paid for. If the project over ran over on costs then the customer had to pay. If the building did not serve the purpose for which it was intended then that was the customers problem. If the business which was housed in the building was failing that did not bother the builder because he got paid anyway. This UWE stadium project is far too big for a club of Rovers size or capabilities. If there was any sign that expertise and major new investment was being brought in there would be less concern. But, as with the football club, all we have is Mr Higgs assurance that he is "confident" it will work and he is "confident" new investors are waiting in the wings". He has been "confident" about so many things with the football club and all have failed. His experience is as a builder not as a developer and I am afraid his "confidence" in the UWE Stadium project will prove to be misplaced given his track record.

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  • Sparkygas  |  March 23 2014, 12:33PM

    I think Nick Higgs knows what he's doing....after all he made his money in the construction industry, you seem very concerned about it all Michael

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  • MichaelRooney  |  March 21 2014, 3:06PM

    So these contractual issues have got nothing to do with a lack of money then ?

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  • westonrobins  |  March 21 2014, 2:32PM

    As a red fan just glad that the gas have got the go ahead never seen a proper derby game since the old Eastville days 1 trip to Trumpton and Horfield was enough. Will be good to get something built around the Bristol area a nice cup draw there in the future will do.

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  • Baldeeheed  |  March 21 2014, 2:03PM

    MichaelRooney - I don't need to repeat what Majorgas has written so eloquently. Your increasing desperate and outlandish claims are now making you look rather silly.

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  • Major_Gas  |  March 21 2014, 1:35PM

    And I would hazard a guess that those 'outstanding contractual issues' Nick Higgs was referring to would be the final contracts that need to be signed by all parties. These are the ones which bind the contractors to the agreement that the stadium is to be built within the 62 week schedule and would include standard practice 'penalties' for the late delivery of such a project. Even you must be able to see that these contracts couldn't be signed until AFTER the JR was decided!! Now we have another small delay whilst we wait to see if TRASHorfield wish to appeal the ruling (7 days) and if so for Justice Hickinbottom to rule whether the appeal can go forward (another 7 days) before BRFC, UWE, Sainsbury's and BCC are free to sign those contracts! So don't worry yourself Michael, instead take a trip to Specsavers (I'm sure there's one on Gloucester Road) and get your eyes checked because you're seeing things that aren't really there!

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  • MichaelRooney  |  March 21 2014, 12:24PM

    It was Nick Higgs who brought up the "outstanding contractual issues" Baldeeheed. If they were minor dotting i's and crossing t's why would he have needed to say anything ?

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  • Baldeeheed  |  March 21 2014, 10:48AM

    I bet those grapes you're chewing on taste incredibly sour, eh Michael Rooney? As usual, you make some grand claims without backing them up with anything credible. If you're talkng about the due diligence that UWE and Sainsbury's have conducted before they agreed to enter into agreements with BRFC, too late they've been done. I may be going out on a limb here, but I reckon the legal eagles of UWE and Sainsbury's are rather better placed to assess the viability of the project than a bitter old keyboard warrior such as yourself.

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  • Jimcarswell  |  March 21 2014, 7:59AM

    Worth saying a huge amount of credit to an MP who actually wants to make a difference - Charlotte Leslie - and I think her taking this on with a brilliant campaign really fired us all up just when we felt under siege from yet another obstacle. She's the city's best politician by a mile.

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  • EvilHomer  |  March 21 2014, 7:33AM

    Nickthegas I and I think most City fans are begrudgingly happy you got your stadium, its great news for Bristol all round. I have not seen MichaelRooney post on any City threads, just TrashHorfields. So please dont try and drag city v Rovers into this.

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