A High Court judge has dismissed a legal challenge over the refusal to grant planning permission for the largest Tesco store in Ireland.
The legal bid to have the decision quashed was made by a property development company involved in the proposed scheme near Banbridge, Co Down.
In March, after judicial review proceedings were launched, Tesco received the go-ahead to build a smaller superstore at the same Bridgewater Park site.
But LS Banbridge Phase 2 Ltd pressed on with its case against the Planning Service decision to refuse permission for the original 130,000 sq ft store.
The refusal took into account a Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) finding that the proposal would have an adverse impact |on Banbridge town centre and undermine its convenience for shoppers and overall prosperity. Lawyers for LS Banbridge argued these conclusions were not supported by evidence or else conflicted with the PAC's own findings elsewhere in its report.
They contended the decision ignored material considerations, was irrational, failed to give adequate or intelligible reasons and breached the European Convention on Human Rights.
Dismissing the application for judicial review, Mr Justice Treacy set out PAC assessments of the turnover of an existing Tesco branch in the area and the likelihood that relatively few shoppers would visit Banbridge town centre in conjunction with a visit to Bridgewater Park.
He said: “Retail impact assessment involves estimation and in my view is was reasonable for the PAC to consider that the trading performance of the existing store was at significant risk from the proposal.”
The judge identified the critical issue in the case as being whether the proposed superstore would harm town centre vitality and convenience.
“In my view the PAC's reasoning is such as to produce an adequate and intelligible basis for the respondent's decision to refuse planning permission,” he ruled.
Plans to build the largest Tesco store in Ireland close to Banbridge were twice rejected by the Planning Service. Since then the retail giant has been given the go-ahead to build a store which will be smaller at the Bridgewater Retail Park site. It will be part of a development which will include retail warehouses and create hundreds of jobs in the area.