The Queens Bench has decided that Winchester City Council acted unlawfully in agreeing to change the requirements on the developers of Silver Hill without inviting other firms to tender for the revised contract. See the full legal judgement.

The judicial review by Mrs Justice Lang said: 

I consider that the variations to the contract in 2014, taken as a whole, resulted in a contract which was materially different in character, such as to demonstrate the intention of the parties to re-negotiate the essential terms of the contract .

and

 In the light of all the evidence, I am satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that a realistic hypothetical bidder would have applied for the contract (as varied), had it been advertised.  

The Leader of Winchester City Council, Robert Humby, said 

'This is clearly disappointing, and runs against the external legal advice the Council had received on this matter, and indeed the initial legal judgement which rejected a Judicial Review.

... Officers are considering with legal advisors next steps, including the possibility of an appeal. Meanwhile, it is important to note the court has not overturned the decision of the planning committee last December, so there is still a viable scheme which has democratic support and could be developed. Nor have they contradicted Deloitte’s conclusion that the approved scheme offered the council ‘best consideration’. What is now at question is our ability to work with Henderson within the framework of the development agreement.

‘The court decided that the council was wrong to proceed with the variations to the scheme now approved without first testing the market. I have therefore asked officers to advise on whether it is possible to rectify that omission to allow us to comply with the court’s decision.

‘I have also asked officers to advise on other options open to us, including whether we should abandon the existing approved scheme and begin again. To start again will require public consultation on options, approval of a masterplan for a preferred option, procurement of development partners and, quite possibly, a further Compulsory Purchase Order being sought.

‘Whatever option is chosen it will have financial consequences. ..

‘Some will question how these circumstances arose. I propose to set in motion an independent review of decision-making on this matter... '

 

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