YORK'S Community Stadium project has been dealt a body blow with news of a legal challenge over plans for an expanded cinema next to the ground, The Press can reveal.

Rival cinema Vue intends to apply for a judicial review of City of York Council's decision planning decision in favour of larger multiplex at Monks Cross than was originally approved.

A council spokeswoman said on Wednesday night that it had received notice from solicitors acting on behalf of Vue Cinema that they intended to issue a judicial review claim, but said the authority was 'not currently in a position to provide further details of the specifics of the claim, as it has not been formally served with a claim.'

However, agents for both Vue and one of York's other cinemas, Reel, argued earlier this summer that the cinema expansion was so great that it should not be dealt with as 'minor design amendments' but warranted a new planning application.

York Press:

Vue at Clifton Moor

Reel argued that the scheme, which includes a 13th screen and 400 additional seats, could threaten the viability of its picturehouse in Blossom Street and warned that if the planning committee made a decision on the application, Reel could challenge its validity in the courts.

Vue said that while it would most likely invest in its facilities in the face of commercial competition from the new cinema, the resulting potential closure of either of York's smaller city centre cinemas would further diminish the relative attraction of the city centre compared to Monks Cross.

The council's planning committee backed the bigger multiplex after officers assured members they were entitled to determine the amended scheme, saying it was not a fundamental change which warranted a new planning application.

Independent councillor Mark Warters raised concerns about the high potential cost to the authority if the matter was taken to judicial review, but failed in a call for councillors to vote on whether they should determine the plan, with committee chair Ann Reid saying it was a procedural matter for officers to determine.

Wrenbridge did not comment on Wednesday but it has warned previously that any further delays in the planning process at this stage could have a knock on impact on the timescales for the development of the adjacent community stadium, which is currently scheduled for completion in time for York City to start playing there in September 2018.

Vue has not yet commented but indicated it would do so later.

York City chairman Jason McGill said he did not wish to comment until more details were available next week.

The council spokeswoman said on Wednesday night: “City of York Council remains fully committed to delivering the Community Stadium and Leisure Facility project, which will provide a wide-range of significant benefits for the city."