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Grant us permission or risk legal battle, says developer

By Alan Smith

A developer has lodged papers with the High Court alleging that Maidstone council breached planning laws when it refused permission for a redevelopment of Springfield Park.

Augur Buchler Partners sought permission to create a supermarket, three other shops, a petrol station and a doctor’s surgery on the site.

Initially, in April, the council’s planning committee was in favour of granting permission, but deferred a decision while there was a discussion over the conditions to be imposed.

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However, when the application returned to the committee on May 8, it was rejected by seven votes to six.

Augur Buchler Partners has engaged law firm Dentons to ask the High Court to quash the decision.

Lawyer George Adamopoulos said: “In our view there was a clear breach of planning law in this case and we are confident the High Court will rule in our favour to strike out the decision.”

However, the firm is hoping both sides can avoid the expense of court proceedings: it has submitted a duplicate application and suggests the council consider it again.

The danger to the council is that if the court rules in the developer’s favour, the judges could order the council to pay both sides’ costs.

The £30m scheme would have created 230 jobs.

The 4.95-acre site off Royal Engineers’ Road, next to the former county library, has been empty since Kent County Council vacated in 2001.

A spokesman for Maidstone council said: “To date we have not been served with any claim for judicial review and so we cannot comment.”

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