THE owners of Stourport’s Co-op supermarket today failed in their High Court challenge to the grant of planning permission for rival Tesco to build a giant new store which it claims could force the Co-op to close and “devastate” the town centre.

The Midcounties Co-operative Limited had asked High Court judge Mr Justice Ouseley to quash the planning permission granted by Wyre Forest District Council for a superstore at the former Carpets of Worth site, on Severn Road.

Midcounties claimed that the council had granted permission for a supermarket 20 per cent bigger than indicated on Tesco’s planning application, even though the council’s retail consultants had been operating on the smaller figure, and even then hadn’t been convinced of the need for the store.

It argued that the council acted outside of its powers in permitting a new Tesco store of 2,919 square metres of net sales space, rather than the 2,401 indicated in the application development, or failed to have regard to the fact that the actual size of the development would be significantly larger than the figure indicated in the application.

It argued that the fact that permission was granted for 500 square metres more of retail space than the council’s own retail consultants had assessed was of particular importance given their conclusion that the case for the scale of retail floor space proposed was “not proven”.

However, the judge today ruled: “I see no basis whatsoever for quashing the planning permission.”

Rejecting the Co-op’s challenge, he said: “They have to show a legal error, which they have failed to do. Accordingly, this application is dismissed.”

In a complex and lengthy judgment, he ruled that the council was entitled to grant planning permission for the reasons it gave.

However, he did rule that the “tailpiece” of one condition in the planning permission should be excised.

Condition 6 of the permission had set out that the footprint store should not exceed 4,209 square metres of gross external area, or 2,919 square metres of retail sales but added the qualification “unless otherwise agreed in writing with the local planning authority”.

The judge ruled that that sentence should be removed, which would therefore require Tesco to seek further planning permission if it wanted to extend further.

The council had claimed that the extra figure in the floorspace took into account ancillary facilities including a café, toilets, customer services, and lobbies, which should be contrasted with the retail area.

Midcounties warned at the hearing earlier this month that the store would lead to the closure of the town centre Tesco Metro store and could cause its own Co-op supermarket to close.

It claimed its store “anchors” Stourport town centre, and that the new Tesco store would have a “devastating impact” on the vitality and viability of the town centre.

It also claimed that the plans will create traffic congestion, and have a significant adverse impact on conservation areas adjacent to the site.