Supermarket giant Lidl has been forced to resubmit a planning application for Medway's first store following a successful legal challenge from rival Asda.
The German trader was granted permission to build the 1,669sqm site near Medway Road, Gillingham , four months ago but the decision made by Medway Council's planning committee was "quashed" by a court ruling.
British supermarket retailer Asda questioned the lawful nature of the proposal and a judge overruled the verdict on a "technical ground" as the decision was made in the early stages of the pandemic, a Medway Council report states.
Medway Council's planning committee will meet tonight to decide whether to support Lidl's duplicate Gillingham proposal during a virtual public meeting.
A dossier published to the committee says: "A previous application for a food store at this application site was granted planning permission on April 3.
"However, following a legal challenge by judicial review, the parties involved in that challenge have agreed a consent order that the planning permission be quashed on a very narrow and technical ground relating to the process of determination during the Covid pandemic .
"The consent order was finalised and sealed by the court on July 27 which means the decision to grant planning permission is now quashed and the application submitted is now a live application again."
Ahead of the crunch meeting tonight, Asda bosses have sent a letter to Medway Council's planning committee as they continue to object to Lidl's plan. Council officers have recommended the application be approved.
Asda - which owns a superstore half a mile away from the proposed Lidl site near A289 Pier Road - has described the move as "unlawful" and says it is carrying out a second legal challenge.
In a Medway council dossier, the retail giant says: "The duplication application must be refused owing to flood risk and the lack of a sequential test."
A spokesman added: "Asda has not received a response to matters raised in the second legal challenge by Asda.
"We should be afforded the opportunity to follow proceedings and address the planning committee directly."
However, Lidl chiefs have hit back at the national supermarket rival, saying that their flood risk statement has never been challenged and the potential for any "surface water" to spill over onto the application site was close to zero.
Gillingham's Pier Road, to the north of the site, has been designated as a potential flood-risk area, but Lidl bosses say this would have to be flooded to the depth of 2m before the application site was at risk.
Advice has also been sought from the Queens Counsel (QC). Representatives told the German retailer that the identification of the site was "satisfactorily addressed" and that the objections raised by Asda have "no planning merit".
A total of seven retail sites have been looked at through a "sequential" test within Chatham and Gillingham, including the Pentagon Shopping Centre; a former Budgens, Brittan Farm Mall and the Trafalgar Centre, but all were deemed unsuitable.
The controversial plans were deferred twice between January and April following opposition from supermarket giants Tesco and Asda but approved on April 3 on the basis they would provide a wider choice for shoppers.
In addition, around 40 jobs would be created and see a brownfield site brought back into use .
It received 28 letters of support back in March but also seven objection letters. Around 97 parking spaces would be provided.
A key decision on Lidl's latest plans will be made by Medway Council's planning committee when they meet for a hybrid meeting at Chatham's Gun Wharf and via Microsoft Teams from 6.30pm this evening.