BCP Council has been threatened with legal action unless it reviews its approval of the controversial Christchurch police station development.

It has been served with a judicial review pre-action protocol letter alleging that the decision made by its planning committee in February was “unlawful”.

The letter says that unless it is overturned – or strict new conditions are added – there will be “no option” but to begin costly legal proceedings.

The council’s planning committee approved Aster Homes’ application to redevelop the disused land between Barrack Road and Bargates, despite strong opposition.

Despite this, a final decision notice has yet to be issued with some agreements yet to be completed.

And the council has now been threatened with a costly judicial review unless it overturns or adds new conditions to it.

It is not known who lodged the challenge but the letter sent on their behalf has been seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Four grounds for challenging the decision are outlined within it:

  1. That the council did not comply with biodiversity policies when considering the application
  2. That it was improperly advised regarding the “ecological corridor” proposed for the site
  3. That it applied the “incorrect test” when considering the impact the scheme would have on people living in neighbouring Twynham Avenue
  4. That it “erred in law” by not considering minimum living space standards for the new homes.

“On the basis of the grounds set out…the claimant is entitled to seek a judicial review of the council’s decision which will require the entire permission to be quashed and the entire decision re-made,” it says. “This will cause the council to incur substantial extra costs.

“Even in the (unlikely) event that the claimant is not successful or not wholly successful, the cost protection measures available to a claimant in a judicial review of this type will mean that the council must bear substantial costs.”

The letter puts two options to the council to avoid full proceedings being launched – that more stringent conditions be added to the committee’s decision, or that it is overturned.

The conditions requested include ensuring all of the homes meet living space standards and that the ecological corridor is at least 10m wide for its entirety.

A spokesman for BCP Council said: “We can confirm that a letter was received on 29 April.

“The contents are being reviewed and legal advice is being provided and a formal response will be sent in due course.”

A spokesman for Aster Housing said it was aware the letter had been sent to the council but that it had yet to be notified of “any decisions that may impact” its plans for the site.

“We will continue to work with the local authority to establish the impact, if any, this may have on our plans for the area,” they said.