In his letter (Gazette, September 26) W L Eaton condemns store operators Fenwick and Lion Walk Property, for requesting a judicial review of the Tollgate retail and leisure park plans.

Despite Mr Eaton’s flippant diatribe against Fenwick directors’ integrity he hits the nail right on the head, probably without realising it, with one short sentence: “But Fenwick wants us all to focus on whether the Secretary of State did right or not at the last count.”

Well of course, that is exactly the purpose of seeking a judicial review.

Many people, including very experienced planning officers, lawyers, council officials, councillors, town centre businesses and residents believe, for several reasons, the Secretary of State did wrong in overturning Colchester Council’s refusal of the Tollgate Village plan.

Some of those reasons are:

1. The decision goes against the Government’s guidelines which instructs local councils to take into account the likely impact that such developments may have on their town centres and to decide in the town centre’s favour.

2. The council appointed a very experienced retail consultancy company which concluded that the Tollgate plan would have a severe impact on the town centre economy.

3. All local councils are required to adopt a local plan which, basically, decides how the land in their area shall be used. The Tollgate scheme conflicts with the council’s local plan.

The council did advise the applicant its proposal was far too big, and suggested that a scaled down version was more likely to be approved, but this was dismissed by the applicant.

Mr Eaton says Fenwick wants to stop the Tollgate Partnership providing jobs.

What Mr Eaton does not take into account is the number of jobs that are lost when town centre shops close because of excessively large out-of-town shopping complexes being built.

This has happened to many town centres throughout the country, creating derelict town centres, which never recover.

Feelings are clearly running high in this dispute between those who support the Tollgate plan and those who do not support it.

Both sides feel that they have valid arguments to their views.

Instead of being angry with the request for a judicial review Mr Eaton should be pleased this independent legal process is available to enable a close examination and fair assessment of the Secretary of State’s decision, and to reverse that decision if the court felt that it was wrong.

Ron Levy
Secretary, Colchester Retail/Business association