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Judicial challenge over Sixfields land dismissed

Business, licensing and regeneration

05 July 2023

The potential development site at Sixfields

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has been successful in defending its decision to sell land to Northampton Town Football Club.

On 8 March 2022, WNC’s Cabinet agreed to accept a bid from County Developments Northampton Ltd (CDNL), which is owned by the club.

At a late stage, development firm Cilldara had submitted a bid for the land, but although this bid was for a larger amount of money, and was very carefully considered, other factors led the council to determine that the club’s bid was most advantageous. Cilldara challenged the decision via judicial review.

The case was argued on six grounds:

  • Procedural unfairness
  • Predetermination
  • Failure to make proper inquiry
  • Failure to achieve the best price
  • Irrationality
  • Failure to give reasons

A hearing was held at the High Court in March this year and The Hon Mrs Justice Steyn DBE, presiding, considered extensive evidence from both sides.

In her judgement, she found in favour of the council and dismissed all grounds of Cilldara’s claim.

We always make important decisions through the most careful consideration, and this decision was one for which we thought through every aspect and detail.

We also took a great deal of advice, both from our own officers and from external professionals. We were therefore optimistic that the decision we made was sound, given the complexities presented by the leases in place on this land, and what we felt the likelihood was of bringing it forward for development.

Despite questions raised in some quarters since Cabinet’s decision to dispose of the land to CDNL, Cilldara’s challenge through the High Court has been unsuccessful, and we’ve been completely vindicated on all six of the grounds raised.

We thank the court and The Hon Mrs Justice Steyn DBE for their time in considering this matter, and we’re pleased that we can now progress a deal which we’re confident will, in the long run, be of greatest benefit to our residents.

We still have much work to do in shaping and agreeing the final detail of the contractual arrangements with the club, and this will commence immediately.
Cllr Jonathan Nunn, Council Leader at West Northamptonshire Council

The council will now be seeking costs against Cilldara to recover the public money spent on successful defence of the decision.

The full judgement can be viewed on the National Archives website.

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