Legal challenge to £90m theatre development is rejected

Date set for Calverley Square inquiry

A last-ditch attempt to prevent the Calverley Square project from going ahead has fallen at the first hurdle, potentially costing thousands of pounds in legal fees.

Former Conservative councillor Brian Ransley, sought to bring down the £90million scheme through a Judicial Review. He has close connections with the Tunbridge Wells Alliance political party which was established primarily to oppose the project.

It is believed the failed legal action could cost Mr Ransley around £5,000.

Planning permission for the project, which will see a theatre and council offices on land next to Calverley Grounds, has already been granted by the council, despite 150 objections to the development being lodged during a public consultation.

Several attempts to block its progress have been made, and a Judicial Review was seen as one of the only viable options remaining.

It is a convoluted and expensive legal instrument where a claimant seeks to prove the process behind making a planning decision was unlawful, rather than the decision itself.

All 48 borough councillors had been named as defendants in the case.

However, the Times can disclose that the High Court has rejected the basis for a review.

This leaves Mr Ransley, who sought the review ‘in his own name’, liable for the legal costs incurred.

The Times understands the Alliance will not offer financial assistance to Mr Ransley.

A spokesman from the borough council told the Times this week: ‘The application for permission to apply for Judicial Review, filed by Brian Ransley in relation to the Calverley Square project, was refused by the High Court on 2 August.

‘The court order confirms that the Judicial Review claim is considered to be totally without merit. Costs have been awarded against Mr Ransley.

‘The council welcomes the decision of the court and will seek to recover our costs.’

Mr Ransley told the Times he did not wish to comment.

Alliance Cllr Nick Pope, who has played a leading role in opposing the scheme, said: ‘We have been exploring other avenues [for how to stop the civic complex being built].

‘There are more hurdles to come and they may prove larger hurdles than the council expected.’

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