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UPDATE: ROVERS IN THE HIGH COURT

21 May 2015

Lawyers for Bristol Rovers today made their closing arguments in the club's court battle with Sainsbury's over the future of the Memorial Stadium site.

David Matthias QC, for the club, told Mrs Justice Proudman that the supermarket giant had been in 'continuing and flagrant breach' of its commitment to Rovers to buy the site for £30m and redevelop it as a supermarket once the club moved to its planned new home.

He said the firm was wrong to treat its application to Bristol City Council, to vary the delivery hours the local authority had imposed when green-lighting plans for the superstore, as an 'appeal'.

The barrister also argued Sainsbury's was 'obliged' - under its agreement with Rovers - to challenge the council's refusal to change the hours.

Mr Matthias told the judge: "In our submission, the most we have to do is establish that, by the cut-off date, if they had complied with their obligations and not been in continuing and flagrant breach of those obligations, the conditions would have been satisfied."

He also said the supermarket chain should have paid attention to the concerns of the council's environmental health officer regarding the noise-reduction measures, and heeded the advice to wait until after the TRASHorfield judicial review of the plans was finished.

Had they done so, he said, they would have got the delivery hours they wanted before the agreement's cut-off date in November last year.

Mr Matthias added: "We say, in this case, to withdraw and re-submit when the political climate had cooled post the completion of the judicial review is what should have happened - taking into account all of the perceived problems with the acoustic report that had been identified by the environmental health officer."

Earlier in the penultimate day of the hearing, the court heard evidence from Jim Tarzey, of Pegasus Group, who were consulted by Bristol Rovers when the club made its successful application to vary the delivery times.

Mr Tarzey, who said he has 27 years experience of advising clients on planning issues, said he had looked in detail at Sainsbury's application and felt it was not completely clear.

He said the firm had included 'extensive noise mitigation measures', but added: "However, it was notable that their application lacked clarity as to what noise mitigation measures Sainsbury's had already committed to and what they would offer in terms of further mitigation in support of the change being sought."

The judge also heard from Mark Curtis, Bristol City Council's chief environmental health officer, that the extra measures needed to get council approval were acoustic fences, to protect nearby residents from the noise generated by lorries.

Mr Matthias and Sainsbury's lawyers will continue with their legal submissions tomorrow.

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