A LEGAL battle over a new £22 million Worcestershire railway station can today be revealed - sparking fears of a shock High court case.

Your Worcester News can exclusively reveal how the county council has issued Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) proceedings against private developers over Worcestershire Parkway, at Norton.

County Hall has already secured £7.5 million of Government funding for the station, which is 30 years in the making, and needs to get it open in 2017 under a deal with Network Rail.

But we understand talks with the firm owning the rights to the land have broken down badly, with Norton Parkway Developments Limited adamant it can deliver the same station at "no cost to Worcestershire's taxpayers".

The company is bitterly refusing to hand the land over - and as we reveal today, has recruited a major international firm as its partner developer to bring its own vision to fruition.

Capita, which has been working on the £55 billion HS2 project set to revolutionise train travel from Birmingham to London, has been signed up to help deliver the rival Norton scheme, with this image showing what it would look like.

The company has severely criticised the council, saying it can deliver Worcestershire Parkway to the same specification as laid down in the planning application, but without having to lumber taxpayers with needless bank borrowing.

This newspaper has obtained a leaked copy of the council's CPO 'statement of reasons', which spans 19 pages and spells out why it wants the land.

In its submission, the council argues that the "only realistic means of delivering" the station is to wrestle control of the land.

The dossier also says County Hall will be able to argue that there is "no evidence to demonstrate a viable and deliverable alternative" as the saga progresses.

But Norton Parkway Developments insists it will not back down, claiming the only reason the council wants to grab the land is to rake in huge sums from future car park profits.

There is current planning permission for 500 parking spots, with the council forecasting the station to break even after 25 years - but if the site takes off, those numbers could expand hugely.

When the hugely successful Warwick Parkway opened it had 300 spaces but later expanded to 1,100 such was the demand.

The council's plans include borrowing £14 million to fund most of the project, paid back over 25 years from train operator access fees and parking charges, but the warring firm says it has the cash to fund it privately.

A spokesman for Norton Parkway Developments said: "We can deliver this station within the same timescale, at no cost to the Worcestershire taxpayer.

"The question is, why does the council want to put taxpayers into debt when there is absolutely no need to."

The firm wants to take the £7.5 million Government cash, which has been awarded to the county via the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and says it will "fund any shortfall" itself to deliver the entire scheme.

But Councillor John Smith, the council's cabinet member for highways, said: "Nobody wants to go down the CPO route but we want this job done, not just for now but for the next 30, 35 years.

"The decision has been made, we want to deliver it."

A Government Secretary of State is expected to look at the CPO before April, and if it favours the council the firm must be awarded compensation.

The company would then have the option of appealing to the High Court.

Bosses at the authority are still adamant it will open some time in 2017 despite the stand-off.

A council spokesman said: "The programme for the design and construction of Worcestershire Parkway takes into account the assumed timescales for completion of the CPO process."

As well as a booking office, toilets, shop and 500 parking spaces, the plans include a taxi rank, bus stops and a drop-off area.

There will be a single platform on the Cotswold Line and two platforms on the Birmingham to Bristol line.

The county council secured planning permission for the big project, from its own planning committee, last summer.

The entire project has been talked about since the 1980s but only last year did it become a serious proposition.