Ocado has been banned from building a new warehouse on Islington’s Bush Industrial Estate after a defeat in the High Court.
The online supermarket had hoped to build a 24-hour depot next to Yerbury Primary School, launching a judicial review after its licence for the site was revoked by the council.
Plans for the warehouse, which included a diesel generator, fuel pumps and a fuel tank for lorries, had drawn protests from the parent-led campaign group “NOcado”.
Ocado had been leased the site by developers Telereal Trillium, which acquired a certificate for lawful development from the council in 2019.
The retailer claimed it had “relied upon the certificate as conclusive evidence that its intended use of the premises was lawful”.
However, the council argued that the property company had provided “false information” and held back “material information” on the scope of any potential development.
“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,” Mr Justice Holgate said in a written ruling.
An Ocado spokesman said the company was “disappointed” by the decision.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
The ruling was welcomed by NOcado protestors, who gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice last month with placards reading: “Our air is not for sale.”
“The verdict of Mr Justice Holgate sets a rightful precedent for prioritising children’s health over irresponsible growth of online deliveries,” campaigner Natasha Cox said.
“There is a place for distribution centres but it is not a skipping rope away from primary school classrooms.”
The news comes after Ocado opened a technology centre in Welwyn Garden City last month.
Its new “Swiftfields Campus” will create jobs for 100 new software engineers, product managers and testers to support the company’s rapid growth over the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the retail giant became FTSE 100’s worst-performing company earlier this year, which some sources blamed on its recent heavy investment.