Permission for Waitrose to develop the ex council site of the old Bellerby Theatre off York Road was granted in November.
But doubt has now been cast on the plans for a Waitrose near the centre of Guildford after legal challenges by the property company Hermes and by Guildford Vision Group (GVG).
The council states it will defend its decision against the two applications for a judicial review but if a judge decides there is a case to answer, Guildford Borough Council could well find itself entangled in legal proceedings.
The legal challenge was lodged by Hermes, the company which owns the Friary Centre and most of the North Street redevelopment site. It is believed Hermes is unsettled in the town, after it was not involved in the North Street development process. Guildford Vision Group served proceedings on Wednesday. The submission asserts grounds for review of the planning decision.
Guildford Vision Group’s key claim is that the council did not take into account alternative possible sites. Guildford Vision Group argues that North Street, which was already earmarked for development, and the Friary Centre, should have been considered as appropriate development sites.
Gerald Bland, of Guildford Vision Group, said: “It’s not something we do without endeavoring to see if there’s a basis for a compromise so there has been correspondence between Guildford Vision Group and Guildford Borough Council for some weeks. “We invited them to enter into what’s called a consent order quashing the planning permission which they were unwilling to do.”
The council now has three weeks to acknowledge the challenge and it may be 18 months before any hearing begins.
The Bellerby site was earmarked for affordable housing before the supermarket stepped in. Guildford Vision Group claims the site could accommodate 250 homes.
There were almost 170 objections to the proposed supermarket with people expressing concerns about increased congestion on local roads and safety for pedestrians, including children from Sandfield School and Guildford Children’s Centre. Some 116 letters of support were submitted for the development which would include 48 homes, 18 of which would have been “affordable”.