Leeds: Victory for council in ‘pharmacy wars’ legal battle

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LEEDS planning chiefs have successfully defended a High Court legal challenge against their approval of the expansion of a GP surgery.

The authority has won its case as well as a costs payout against Lloyds Pharmacy, which objected to the approval of an application relating to Manor Park Surgery in Bramley, and specifically to the inclusion of a rival pharmacy with extended opening hours within the new development.

Lloyds, which runs its own service in the same complex, had previously won a costs payout of its own over the row, after the council admitted there had been “flaws” in its original decision-making process.

However the council has now won the second round of the battle, after a High Court judge threw out the firm’s second bid to have the planning approval quashed.

A report to be presented to the South and West Plans Panel tomorrow confirms all eight grounds of appeal presented by the claimant were thrown out. An application by Lloyds to appeal the decision was also refused.

The council’s court victory relates back to a long running dispute over the application to extend Manor Surgery, which is based in Bellmount Close.

Bosses want to build additional consultation rooms, waiting areas, an ancillary optician, as well as the 100-hours-a-week pharmacy.

Lloyds Pharmacy had submitted an earlier objection and used the Human Rights Act to try to thwart the opening of the rival.

The council admits “lessons have been learned” throughout the row, and is now vowing to make its systems more “robust”.

The report concludes: “As a result of lessons learned during the above process and advice provided, work is being carried [out] to improve report formats to ensure as far as possible that officer reports are robust enough to stand up to the level of scrutiny that the reports for this application were subjected to.”

Solicitors for Lloyds had written to the council for a second time, claiming it had “erred in law” and presenting eight different grounds for the application to be rejected.

Among the challenges put forward was that the council had included in its decision an “immaterial consideration”.

It was claimed the council had been presented with a “false premise” that the surgery’s bosses needed the pharmacy component to help fund the improvements.

However the council report says the judge rejected this argument, concludingthe council was “entitled to rely on the evidence...from the surgery which explained the need to have a 100 hours pharmacy on site.” The other grounds, relating to planning policy, were also rejected.

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