High Court Day 2
May 18, 2015
The judge deciding the fate of Bristol’s Memorial Stadium site today told the High Court she was pleased to hear of Rovers’ promotion.
Mrs Justice Proudman, who is hearing the dispute between the club and Sainsbury’s over a £30m deal to redevelop the site and fund a new 21,700 stadium, said: “Good”, when told of yesterday’s triumph over Grimsby Town.
Rovers won on penalties at Wembley to secure a place in the football league.
David Matthias QC, representing the club, told the judge of the historic win before continuing his cross-examination of Chris Templeman, Sainsbury’s head of planning.
Mr Templeman said Sainsbury’s had used ‘all reasonable endeavours’ to go through with the proposed supermarket development.
The court heard that, after Bristol City Council refused the shopping chain’s application to change restrictions on its delivery times, the store could not go ahead.
Mr Matthias asked if Sainsbury’s could have withdrawn the application, in view of an ongoing judicial review by pressure group Traders and Residents Against Sainsbury’s Horfield (Trash), and applied again at a ‘better time’.
Mr Templeman replied: “Well yes, whatever a better time means. (One councillor) said we should wait until the following year, or maybe a year after that, and there was a suggestion we could have applied after the store was open – neither of those options was commercially viable.”
He also refuted the barrister’s suggestion that it was ‘bad faith’ not to tell Rovers about the expected problems with the delivery restrictions in advance of the council’s decision. Mr Matthias then asked if Sainsbury’s board members were ‘pleased’ with the outcome.
Mr Templeman said: “In the context of the commercial situation, if that meant we did not have to complete the purchase of the site, given what I said earlier about the expected return on investment, then yes, that was a positive outcome.”
The club’s barrister also referred to an email sent immediately after the council’s decision, in which Mr Templeman said he ‘feared the worst in PR terms’ but that the supermarket chain would be withdrawing from the deal with Rovers.
The hearing continues.