THE owners of Festival Place have lost a legal challenge over the planned £300 million redevelopment of the Basingstoke Leisure Park.

As previously reported in the Gazette, AEW Europe LLP, which runs the town centre shopping centre took the decision to take legal action against Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council over the procurement process which led to NewRiver REIT Plc becoming the development partner for the redevelopment of the site.

The argument came after AEW claimed that the borough council had taken ineffective legal steps in agreeing terms with NewRiver REIT Plc regarding the outlet side of the proposed redevelopment.

However, a high court judge has dismissed the bid against the borough council.

During the hearing judge Sir Robert Akenhead rejected the claimants’ application on this issue, concluding that a declaration of ineffectiveness was unavailable in this case.

Judge Akenhead referred to the previous case of Alstom Transport v Eurostar stating that ‘mechanistic test’ outlined in the case helped determine whether the grounds existed for granting a declaration of ineffectiveness should be applied in this instance of this case.

He said: “Proceedings issued 10 months ago, another year of proceedings probably required to determine the factual background and merit, if any, of the claimant's claim, the incurring of hundreds of thousands of pounds in terms of costs of the legal proceedings and the consequential economic uncertainty of whether the Leisure Park will start to be redeveloped much before 2022.”

He added that he found that the relationship between the borough council and NewRiver were “unchallengeable”

This comes after fresh calls from the Basingstoke Ice Rink Users Forum have made fresh calls for clarity over the future of the ice rink in the leisure park.

As previously reported in the Gazette the borough council is currently looking at proposed sites to host a temporary rink while the redevelopment of the Leisure Park takes place.

Cabinet member for regeneration and property Cllr John Izett said: “I'm pleased that the High Court has found that our procurement of NewRiver REIT Ltd as our development partner was sound.

“We are keen to get on with bringing forward these proposals with NewRiver for what will be a fantastic new leisure park for borough residents. It is disappointing that this legal challenge has delayed us by a year already and continues to do so."

However, AEW has said that they are going to contest the courts ruling.

A spokesperson at AEW said: “We believe that the judgment is wrong and we have sought permission to appeal it.”