In yet another twist in the long-running saga, the supermarket giant has now issued High Court proceedings against Sunderland City Council Unitary Development Plan (Alteration No. 2) which forbids any large-scale retail development on the site until at least 2012.
The latest move comes even though the local authority, which wants to build a mixed-use scheme by CZWG on the riverside plot, has the backing of both the secretary of state and the planning inspector (AJ 08.11.07).
Regeneration agency Sunderland Arc has since hit out at the new challenge, claiming Tesco is trying to ‘block development’ of the area ‘for its own vested interest’.
David Walker, chief executive of Sunderland Arc, said: ‘We are very disappointed to learn that Tesco has challenged the adoption of the UDP Alteration No. 2, as this could potentially delay all development in central Sunderland.
‘We have never been against a Tesco store in Sunderland and would welcome its presence in the city on a more appropriate site. Therefore, we will continue discussions with Tesco in order to progress our proposals for this site, putting an end to people’s frustrations, creating thousands of jobs and boosting the economy of the city.'
However Tesco, which originally asked Michael Aukett to look at the scheme, is arguing that the UDP ‘fails to clarify the future of the Vaux site and so is unintentionally hindering the future regeneration of Sunderland city centre’.
The supermarket is alleging the current document lacks certainty, that Tesco was not consulted on a preferred location for a superstore in Holmeside and has also suffered prejudice.
The challenge is likely to be heard in the High Court next year.