A new battle is being waged by developers championing two multi-screen cinema-led ventures in Peterborough.
The firm behind a £100 million development of the city’s North Westgate has turned to the High Court in a dramatic bid to overturn planning approval for a rival development.
It does not alter our plans or commitment to Queensgate.Guy Thomas, head of retail asset management
The boss of Hawksworth Securities has appealed for a judicial review to quash Peterborough City Council’s go ahead of a £30 million planned development within the Queensgate shopping centre.
But that has prompted Queensgate’s owners and managers, Invesco and Lendlease, to submit a second planning application for the 77,000 sq ft extension and redevelopment of the centre.
It is hoped the new application will reduce the time it takes the council to reconsider the issue if the judicial review application is successful.
Peter Breach, chairman of Hawksworth Securities, said: ”I would not have taken this action if I was not confident of success.
“I am not happy at being at odds with the city but there were a few things in the planning process I was not happy about.”
Both development proposals were given the green light by the local authority at the same time last September.
Queensgate has the edge in the race to build a cinema as it has full planning approval while the North Westgate venture is only in outline form and the site is not fully prepared.
It is accepted that having two cinemas so close together is not viable and that approval for the Queensgate scheme effectively scuppers its rival’s proposals.
It is thought a decision on the plea for a judicial review will be made in a few weeks.
The judge will either give permission for the review to take place or will throw out the request.
If a judicial review does take place it could quash the council’s approval for the Queensgate development and demand the application is reconsidered.
Guy Thomas, head of retail asset management at Lendlease, said: “Whilst it is disappointing Hawksworth has taken this action against the council, it does not alter our plans or commitment to Queensgate, and with it, the long-term prosperity of Peterborough city centre.
“Consequently, we have been working to submit a second application to deal with this issue, which is a legal technicality.
“Subject to receiving consent, our plan remains to begin work on the extension this year.”
Council leader Councillor John Holdich said: “It is disappointing that Hawksworth has sought to challenge the decision made by the council’s planning committee.
“The council will be defending its position against any judicial review.”
Cllr Holdich added: “We remain committed to the comprehensive redevelopment of North Westgate alongside further investment in Queensgate shopping centre to meet the needs of our growing city and to attract more visitors.
“We have been in discussions with Hawksworth about how we can work together to regenerate the North Westgate site.”
He added: “We will continue to support development and investment and as a city we are making great progress, with difficult to deliver sites like the former district hospital and Fletton Quays now coming forward and following on from recent development in the Station Quarter.”
The new Queensgate application is the same as the one submitted last September and seeks to create a series of new, larger stores, a restaurant hub and multi-screen digital cinema.
The extension will be carried out in partnership with John Lewis, which will be releasing its under-utilised storage space to create a refurbished offering.
In addition, Next and Odeon are committed to the extension, and a number of leading restaurant operators have expressed strong interest in opening in the development, with two premises under offer to new operators to Peterborough.
About 200 jobs will be created once the extension is complete, adding 10 per cent to the total number of people employed by Queensgate.
Mr Thomas said: “Our previous consultation highlighted the strength of support from the residents and visitors alike.
“The extension will help make the city centre an even more appealing location, join together Peterborough, with improved access between the station and Cathedral Square, and create employment.
“We have the full support of John Lewis, Next and Odeon, and demand for the new retail and restaurant units outstrips supply.
“Funding is in place and we are ready to begin work immediately due to no lengthy and costly land acquisition needing to be undertaken.”