New Marks & Spencer foodhall off A259 can now go ahead

Plans for a new Marks & Spencer foodhall off the A259
Plans for a new Marks & Spencer foodhall off the A259

A legal challenge to plans for a new Marks & spencer foodhall off the A259 has been dropped.

The new store and a Toby Carvery Pub was granted planning permission for the site between Angmering and Rustington by Arun District Council’s development control committee in October.

However approval was only given on the chairman’s casting vote and the decision went against the advice of council officers.

They had argued the plans failed to meet the sequential test for convenience retail proposals in out-of-centre locations.

Store Property Investments Limited had been seeking to challenge the council’s decision as ‘legally flawed’.

But last week it was confirmed the bid for a judicial review had been dropped.

A council spokesman said: “Arun District Council is pleased that the legal action has been withdrawn following the decision of the High Court Judge to reject the initial judicial review, and that now the applicant can implement the planning permission.”

The news was first announced by council leader Gillian Brown at a meeting last Wednesday (March 13).

Lib Dem James Walsh appeared to criticise the committee’s decision as it had gone against the officers’ clear recommendations.

In response Ricky Bower, who chairs the committee, said: “I’m pleased the judicial review has been withdrawn but I defend the decision of the development control committee and my power as chairman and the constitution right to make the casting vote where that becomes necessary.”

Dudley Wensley, cabinet member for corporate support, added: “I would say with the greatest respect is the High Court decided that the processes observed were correct that’s why they threw it [the legal challenge] out.”

M&S secured approval from councillors to build a Simply Food store off the A259 in 2015, but permission was quashed following a judicial review by Store Property, who are landlords of Waitrose in Rustington.

Waitrose left Littlehampton town centre in 2015 – a vacant site also leased by Store Property – which the landlord argues is suitable for M&S.

But M&S has continually dismissed the site, claiming it has ‘significant’ viability issues.

Meanwhile a planning application has recently been received for 83 homes on the vacant former Waitrose site in Littlehampton.