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Leeds City Council hid arena plans, court told

Yorkshire-based developer Montpellier Estates has accused Leeds City Council of “actively concealing” its own “solid plans” for a new 12,500-seat arena in the city from companies submitting proposals.

At the High Court, the managing director of Montpellier, Jan Fletcher, said the council had been pursuing its own development plans for more than a year before rejecting two private company bids, including one from her firm.

She added, the council’s decision to develop an arena in the city on land previously not shortlisted as an option, made the tendering process unfair.

Leeds City Council “vigorously denies” the allegations that it developed its own plans for the site early on in the tendering process and covered them up using an audit trail, but it is not challenging them as it claims Montpellier misunderstood EU contract rules.

Fletcher claims the decision cost her company “many millions of pounds” and says the local authority breached European Union procurement rules.

She said she decided to take legal action against Leeds City Council after considering what is “best for our region” and the Harrogate-based firm is now suing for damages.

Montpellier wanted to build the arena on land at Sweet Street and developer GMI submitted plans for the scheme at Elland Road. Both companies had their proposals rejected in favour of a site in Claypit Lane, despite the council never having previously said the location was under consideration. The council bought land from Leeds Metropolitan University and decided to develop the plans itself.

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