Goodman expected to launch High Court challenge over refused Colnbrook SIFE development

There is growing speculation today that property developer Goodman is preparing to submit a High Court challenge the Secretary of State’s decision to reject SIFE.

Goodman handed over a 22,000 m² warehouse in Germany this week.  It wants to build 190,000 m² of warehouses in Colnbrook.

Goodman handed over a 22,000 m² warehouse in Germany this week.  It wants to build 190,000 m² of warehouses in Colnbrook.

Goodman Logistics (UK) Ltd, the UK subsidiary of the giant Australian property developer behind SIFE, could be preparing to launch a High Court challenge against Secretary of State Greg Clark’s decision to dismiss its appeal in July.

Colne Valley Park director and anti-SIFE campaigner Mike Nye has advised this evening that he has been informed that Goodman has given notice to challenge the decision, but as yet, no formal application for a Judicial Review has been made. 

If confirmed, the move will surprise few given the investment the company has made in the controversial scheme.

The company, listed on the Australian stock exchange, purchased the biggest part of the 183 acre site north of the Colnbrook By-pass for just over £17 million in 2009 – through its offshore registered subsidiary Goodman Colnbrook (Jersey) Ltd.  The purchase of other parts of the site are understood to have taken the total investment to well over £20 million.

Having established Goodman Colnbrook (Jersey) in 2008, a full two years before its original planning application, Goodman was always in it for the long game.

goodman-award.jpg

 

The company, which was named Europe’s Top Developer for the fifth year running earlier this week, has developed over 4 million square metres of logistics space since 2009.  The award coincided with the handing over of a brand new 22,000 sqm logistics centre near Leipzig in Germany to Hellmann Worldwide Logistics.  SIFE, by comparison, would see 195,000 sqm of new warehousing created and 400,000 sqm of lorry parking.

Goodman had six weeks from the decision on the 12th July to begin the formal process to appeal, which would need to have started with a formal notification by 23rd August.  The process for appeals is set out under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Mr Nye says it has been confirmed to him that Goodman intends to appeal on three grounds:

  • Ground 1: Need, alternative sites and the inevitability of the use of Green Belt
  • Ground 2: Strategic Gap & the Colne Valley Regional Park
  • Ground 3: the openness of the Green Belt

The “inevitability” ground in particular will no doubt raise eyebrows given Heathrow’s interest in the site and the imminent decision expected on the Third Runway.

Goodman will need to convince the High Court first that there are grounds for a judicial review.  However even if the developer is successful in its legal challenge it may not be successful in reversing the decision, as the decision letter itself advises:

“The Secretary of State cannot amend or interpret the decision. It may be redetermined by the Secretary of State only if the decision is quashed by the Courts. However, if it is redetermined, it does not necessarily follow that the original decision will be reversed”.

However, it does raise the unwelcome possibility of further wrangling over the SIFE decision extending into 2017.

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