High Court throws out battle by businesses against Lidl expansion in Fareham

SUPERMARKET giant Lidl is on the brink of steamrollering over a number of small businesses after a hard-fought legal battle by traders was quashed by the High Court.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 7:18 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 7:28 am

Judges have given the green light to the German-based retailer to demolish its current site in Newgate Lane, Fareham, and replace it with a larger store.

The move was previously approved by Fareham Borough Council and would see the firm buy up adjacent businesses and tear down the Apex Centre.

But the decision sparked a determined legal war between businesses at the site and the council, with outraged traders saying their livelihood was in jeopardy.

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They took a judicial review to the High Court, demanding the council's decision was revoked. But despite fighting tooth and nail, judges refused to back their plea, ruling in favour of the council.

Businesses now have until tomorrow to submit an appeal of the judicial review.

Kevin Arrowsmith, director of A & S Signs and Graphics Ltd, led the campaign and was crushed by the decision, which he says will put jobs in the firing line.

He said: '˜This is disgusting. The council sees wiping out these businesses as a victory.

'˜They have all turned their back on us, the local businesses, in support of a German company, Lidl.

'˜I'm just shocked, it goes against all government policies on supporting and protecting British manufacturing in the aerospace industry.'

In a legal ruling, the High Court judge said the was no basis in the argument put forward by traders.

Fourteen businesses, which include a range of engineering and maritime firms, now face being evicted from their premises.

Undeterred, Mr Arrowsmith is now desperately seeking supporters to back a crowdfunding bid to support a new appeal, one which could cost up to £50,000.

But he admitted: '˜It's impossible but I am really hoping someone out there, a big business maybe, will just go 'this is bad, let's help'.'

If the cash isn't raised before tomorrow, there will be no chance of a subsequent appeal being lodged.

This will mean Lidl will have the authority to carry out its expansion plans.

The retailer declined to make a formal comment as legal proceedings hadn't fully concluded. However, The News understands that businesses will be given a nine-month grace period by Lidl.

Fareham Borough Council was awarded £5,000 costs by the High Court.