Latimer Lee partner defends Man U fan in dispute over Man City expansion

Regional property lawyer Chris Platt of Manchester-based Latimer Lee is leading a land dispute between Manchester City Football Club and a fan of rival side Manchester United.

The partner has been instructed to represent Manchester United supporter and landowner Shaun O’Brien against legal action taken by Manchester City Council and Manchester City.

The latter two are seeking a compulsory purchase order (CPO) of O’Brien’s vehicle recovery business in order to pave the way for the club’s £100m training ground expansion plans.

Platt has played his first card and recruited CPO expert David Napier of London surveyors GL Hearn to advise.

And The Lawyer can reveal that a date has been set for 1 May for a public inquiry into the battle.

However, Platt has yet to instruct a barrister, whereas the council’s in-house lawyer Celia Tierney has already made her move, instructing deputy chambers head Ian Dove QC and Celina Colquhoun of No5 Chambers in Birmingham.

O’Brien has been offering 1sq ft pieces of his land at £250 each to the public in order to thwart the Abu Dhabi-owned club’s expansion.

The club, which is acting as an interested party, is being represented by its general counsel Simon Cliff.

It has been reported that O’Brien has turned down an initial offer of £1m for his plot and that negotiations have broken down. He said that the dispute is down to the lack of respect and manner of the initial offer, rather than footballing rivalry.

The Blues revealed in July last year that they want to spend £100m transforming a run-down 80-acre plot in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium. The plans include a 7,000-capacity arena, community facilities and a sixth-form college. Backers say the project would create 250 jobs and kick-start development in one of Britain’s poorest neighbourhoods.

If successful, a CPO would force the landowners in the 80-acre area of Openshaw West to sell to the council at market value.

The decision on whether to grant an order would be made by the secretary of state for communities following a public inquiry before a Government planning inspector.

Regeneration chief Eddie Smith said he is still hopeful of further dialogue, but it appears the opposing legal teams are already drawing lines in the sand.