'Ocado, leave our school alone', food delivery giant loses legal battle

Yerbury School pupils hold Ocado banner.

Before the hearing pupils from Yerbury Primary School gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London chanting for Ocado to leave their school alone. - Credit: PA Wire/Kirsty O'Connor

Online supermarket Ocado expressed "disappointment" after losing a high court battle with Islington council over its bid to open a round-the-clock delivery hub next to a school in Tufnell Park. 

The food delivery giant applied to open a delivery hub on the Bush Industrial Estate site, bordering Yerbury Primary School in 2019, after the site's owner Telereal Trillium was granted a lawful development certificate by the council in 2017, allowing for storage and distribution. 

But the certificate was revoked in October last year after a successful campaign led by a group of residents and families of Yerbury pupils called NOcado.

They were concerned the site - which could serve up to 100 delivery vans a day at peak times - would be noisy and increase pollution near Yerbury School's playground and residential streets.

The High Court challenge saw Ocado claim for judicial review of Islington's revocation of the lawful development certificate and lose. 

A spokesperson from Islington Council said: "We are pleased with [the] decision."

Before the hearing on June 7, pupils from Yerbury Primary School gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London and chanted: “Hey, Ocado, leave our school alone.”

The judge in the case, Mr Justice Holgate, heard how Ocado had entered a lease agreement for the units having “relied upon the certificate as conclusive evidence that its intended use of the premises was lawful”.

But the council said “false information” had been provided by Telereal Trillium and “material information (was) withheld” with regard to the nature and extent of the plan and the nature of the use and occupation.

Lawyers representing Ocado said the council had “erred in law” and failed to take into account material considerations.

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Mr Justice Holgate disagreed and said in a written ruling: “Telereal obtained a certificate to which it was not entitled on the basis of the information it provided and withheld.”

An Ocado spokesman expressed "disappointed" with the ruling: “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.

“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.”