THE COUNCIL is facing a judicial review of its decision to grant permission to an Aldi supermarket in Highworth.

Midcounties Cooperative has lodged a review of the decision with the High Court.

They say St Andrews councillor Vera Tomlinson, who was sacked from the committee last year, admitted she had not read planning officers’ report on the application before voting on it.

The Co-op has also argued the committee took heed of “irrelevant” considerations in granting permission, specifically the claim that granting permission for a new food store would not have an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Highworth’s town centre.

Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee is expected to discuss the case at a meeting tonight, Tuesday. But members of the press and public are due to be excluded from the discussion on the grounds that “a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.”

In a statement, Midcounties Cooperative said: “Given the local impact of this decision, it is within everyone’s best interest that businesses and residents are reassured that all appropriate procedures were adhered to. For this reason, we have made an application for a judicial review to ensure that all legal due process has been followed.”

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “Members of the planning committee will discuss the Co-op’s judicial review application and the council’s likely response in private at their meeting. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

The Co-operative currently runs a mini-supermarket in Highworth, which has faced criticism for broken fridges and empty shelves.

Any delay to the development of the supermarket may come as a disappointment to local residents.

The council’s planning officers were initially against the authority’s planning committee approving the scheme - but at the meeting, 25 residents came along to show their support, a petition with 972 signatures was presented to the committee, and councillors made their final pleas to persuade planners that the Aldi would be good for the town.This effort was enough to change the planning committee’s mind and they approved the plans.

Coun Tomlinson was dismissed from the planning committee last year after she broke party ranks, describing the town centre as shameful. She returned to the committee in June.

A spokesman for Aldi said: “We believe that our proposals for a new Aldi community food store in Highworth are an exciting prospect for the town. Not only will this provide a much-needed new service, it will also help to unlock the rest of the estate for its allocated employment use. Our plans have the overwhelming support of local residents and their elected representatives and we remain committed to delivering a new place for the community to shop in the near future. We hope that any challenge lodged by the Co-op can be overcome.”