Lancashire wins Derwent legal battle

LANCASHIRE County Cricket Club (LCCC) and its development partners can push ahead with their £70m redevelopment of large parts of Old Trafford after a High Court judge rejected a challenge by a rival developer. 

Judge Waksman found in their favour following a judicial review brought by Albert Gubay’s Derwent Holdings into Trafford Borough Council’s decision to approve the Ask Developments-led scheme, which includes a 155,000 sq ft Tesco, at a planning meeting last year.

Derwent had a similar application to build a 100,000 sq ft Sainsbury’s store at the nearby White City development refused at the same meeting.

The council’s chief executive Matt Colledge said he was, “absolutely delighted that the sports-led regeneration now had the green light to progress.”

LCCC chief executive Jim Cumbes described the delays caused by the various legal challenges from Derwent had been “a thorough nuisance” and had caused the £23m redevelopment of the Old Trafford stadium to lose £2m in grants from the NWDA and a further £1m from Sport England. It had also led to the club incurring £1.6m in legal bills.

However, he added that the redevelopment of the cricket ground would still complete by April 2013, meaning that the club can continue to bid to host a test match during the 2013 Ashes series.

He said: “This is a historic moment for Old Trafford, as it will ultimately secure the future of international cricket in Greater Manchester and the North West as well as enabling us to fulfil our promises to local schools and the local community at large.

“This development has undergone every kind of scrutiny and delay possible and we have successfully cleared every hurdle put in front of us.”

Cumbes said that it “doesn’t bear thinking about” what would have happened if the decision had gone in Derwent’s favour.

“Clearly there wouldn’t have been any international cricket,” he said.

He added that the legal and planning fees that it also incurred during the process meant that the LCCC would have been “in an extremely difficult position even to carry on as a county club”.

Mr Colledge said that the decision was “hugely significant” for the Trafford Borough, which benefits economically to the tune of £7m-£8m from a major five-day test.

“It isn’t just a borough issue or a Greater Manchester issue, it’s an issue for the whole of the North West.”

Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Matthew Magee estimated that the new store it is building will cxreate around 500 new jobs.

Derwent can apply for leave to appeal but must do so within the next two weeks. The company declined to comment on the decision.