BUSINESSES facing eviction from an industrial estate feel ‘forced’ to take court action against their council.
Companies at the Apex Centre in Fareham have been fighting against a planning decision by the council which was granted for Lidl to expand its store on Newgate Lane.
Graphics business owner Kevin Arrowsmith is representing the businesses and has sought legal advice from the Environmental Law Foundation.
The 47-year-old said: ‘Due to the council’s actions in granting Lidl’s planning, resulting in 13 business being evicted, we felt court action is the only option for us to take.’
‘They have policies which mean new developments can’t equal less jobs than what was there before and they have gone against their own policies.’
The planning application for a larger Lidl store was granted at the end of last year.
Lindsay Dowdell has had mechanics business Gearboxes n the site since it opened 35 years ago. He said: ‘I feel like the council has forced our hand. I am absolutely furious and I face having to close my business because the council has been lied to and are lying themselves.’
The Environmental Law Foundation is backing the fight.
Emma Montlake, from the charity, said: ‘This is a really strong case and I have had three similar with Lidl targeting vulnerable community spaces in the last year.
‘That is a pattern and so we have decided this is a case of public interest and will be supporting the case.’
Horatio Waller, from Frances Taylor Building, is the barrister working on the case.
Emma said: ‘We have worked with Horatio before on a number of cases and we are hopeful we will get a good outcome.’
A judicial review pre-court action protocol letter has been sent to the council and interested parties, including Lidl and the landlord of the Apex Centre.
Emma said: ‘We are hoping the council sorts the issue before court and quashes the planning decision.’
A spokesperson for Fareham Borough Council said: ‘The Council has received a letter, advising that an application may be made to the Courts which seeks to quash the planning permission granted to Lidl UK in April this year.
‘Fareham Borough Council will be responding to this letter shortly.’
Kevin added: ‘We owe so much gratitude for legal charity the ELF and the barrister Horatio Waller who have supported us to highlight this injustice and national embarrassment.’
Councillors at Fareham Borough Council told The News they are unable to discuss proceedings at this time.