Ocado loses long running legal battle to open distribution centre next to primary school

Ocado has lost a long running legal battle to open a new high-tech distribution hub in North London just three metres from a primary school.

Last month Ocado appealed to the High Court to overturn Islington Council’s decision to block the distribution hub, which would be located next to Yerbury Primary School and originally included plans to include a diesel tank and three pumps to refill vans.

However, the High Court has denied Ocado’s request and a judge has dismissed its claim for a judicial review of the decision, originally made last October.

Ocado was initially granted a certificate for lawful development for the site in the heart of a residential area in Tufnell, London, in 2019.

However, in October, Islington Council withdrew the site’s certificate of lawfulness after accusing Ocado and its landlords Telereal of “withholding material information” to secure permission and “providing misleading evidence”.

In last month’s appeal Ocado’s lawyers argued that the council had failed to take into account material considerations and “erred in law”.

READ MORE: Protestors brand Ocado “corporate bully” as it appeals ruling to build distribution hub next to school

In response, Justice Holgate said: “Public confidence in certificates of lawfulness of an existing use or development must extend to the reliability of the information put forward by an applicant to support the grant of a certificate.

“Telereal obtained a certificate to which it was not entitled on the basis of the information it provided and withheld.”

An Ocado spokesperson said the online grocer was “disappointed with today’s judgement”.

They added: “Our proposals for the Bush Industrial Estate are to build the greenest and quietest grocery facility in the UK with a 100 per cent electric van fleet.

“We remain committed to the Islington community, where we delivered to one in six households in 2020, and will continue to look at how we can deliver a better service to the borough and significantly reduce our emissions.”

Alongside issues with Ocado’s certification was a significant backlash from the local community, spearheaded by Yerbury Primary School which held a protest outside the court last month.

While Ocado has promised to use only electric delivery vans at the location, the school’s head teacher Cassie Moss said there would still be: “heavy goods vehicles running through most of the day and night, subcontracted cars, mopeds and staff vehicles (that) will not be electric.”

She added that the site would “literally along the whole length of our playground”.

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