Hoopers turns down £50,000 in dispute over car park and wants theatre moved

Then offer was revealed in evidence presented at the public inquiry into the Council’s use of CPOs (Compulsory Purchase Orders).

Inspector Graham Dudley heard that in August 2018, property consultant, Mark Davey from GVA, acting on behalf of the Borough Council, wrote to the store’s real estate representative, Paul Lidgley, from Lambert Smith Hamilton, with the financial offer for vehicle access rights to the car park.

The council argues that it needs access to the car park to make the theatre project viable.

Mr Lidgley then emailed Mr Davey in October 2018, declining the offer, and asked the council to consider Hoopers’ ‘alternative proposal’ instead, Mr Dudley heard.

This alternative proposal, the inquiry was told, was to move the entire development three metres to the east and north, which would mean the Council would not need Hoopers’ customer car park for servicing the theatre.

Store Managing Director, Debra Angus, told the inquiry last week: “It is an alternative that we believe could work. We worked hard to produce it, but at the point of putting it in with our objections, we were simply told it was not going to work.”

The inquiry had heard from Stephen Eyton, from logistics consultants Vectos, who said Hoopers’ alternative plan would mean the development was within the identified sewer easement zone and would require taking additional land from Calverley Grounds, so had been dismissed as an option by the Council.

Ms Angus said that the use of the department store’s car park was a ‘red line’ that Hoopers would not cross.

“We have never been against the theatre, the design or the building, it is just where it is in location to us,” she argued.

QC, Ms Heather Sargent, representing TWBC then quizzed Ms Angus on Hoopers’ decision to sell off a second car park of 17 spaces on Grove Hill Road in 2017.

She said: “At the point you sold off the car park, you knew the council were seeking a compulsory purchase order on your other customer car park.

“If, as you say, car parking is ‘crucial for the viability of the store’ you would not have closed the other car park, would you?”

Ms Angus argued that the Grove Hill Road car park was difficult to manage as customers would often leave their cars and ‘disappear to London for the day’ and that the decision to close it was made in 2013, two years before the council approached them with their plans for the new development.

However, Ms Sargent, pointed out that neither Hoppers’ Harrogate, Torquay nor Wilmslow stores had their own customer car park.

She told Mr Graham Dudley: “Hoopers’ other stores do not have car parks and they are still in business. It shows that the Hoopers brand does not have to offer car parking to survive.”

The inquiry continues this week and is expected to end on Friday following a visit to the proposed site by Mr Dudley. He will then write his report based on the evidence presented at the inquiry and make a decision as to whether to confirm the CPOs requested by the council.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter