As Gravesend awaits news on whether a judicial review will be carried out on the Heritage Quarter, both sides have begun a war of words.
Urban Gravesham have accused Gravesham council leader John Burden (Lab) of ignoring the pressure group’s concerns while MP Adam Holloway (Con) has been told he is “irresponsible”.
Urban Gravesham secretary Sue Couves said: “We have not lightly approached the subject of legally challenging the decision of Gravesham council to grant planning permission.
"It is both expensive and the courts are disposed not to intervene unless there is a clear breach of laws.
“This was why we warned the council that it needed to look again at its ‘in principle’ decision to grant planning permission on the grounds that officers misled councillors when they said there were no possible grounds for refusing permission.”
She added: “If John Burden is ‘devastated’ that we have taken the matter to court to get the council to rethink, then he has not been reading his correspondence.
“Everyone knew that M&S has been considering its position after the opening of its flagship store at Bluewater and its own rebranding and refitting programme.
"It should come as no surprise that the turnover at Gravesend could not support a major refitting.
“It was the council’s own retail advisers who said that further expansion at Bluewater would undermine the case for the Heritage Quarter development.
"What it shows is that the case for large shops to relocate to Gravesend does not exist and the economic case for Edinburgh Houses plans is made of straw.”
Meanwhile, following his comments made in the Gravesend Messenger last week, Adam Holloway has been called ‘irresponsible’ for supporting Urban Gravesham’s appeal.
He described the scheme as “shockingly low quality” with “no popular support”.
Gravesham council business boss Cllr Tan Dhesi (Lab), and his opponent at the next election, said: “I was amazed to hear the comments supporting this legal action. It will put this major regeneration of Gravesend town centre in jeopardy.
“At a time when we are trying to attract new businesses into the town and ensuring the future of existing businesses, not to mention the creation of hundreds of new jobs, this eleventh hour legal action, supported by Mr Holloway, is totally irresponsible.”
He added: “I can appreciate that some people think that some aspects of the development are not in keeping with the town.
“The fact is that all major developments of this nature are a compromise as otherwise nothing would ever move forward.
“In an ideal world we would get everything that we asked for but in the real world, unfortunately, things are not like that.
“The brutal fact is that the parts of the scheme that Mr Holloway would like to see omitted or changed would make the development financially unviable.”
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