A High Court judge has called for a hearing into the policy document underpinning Earls Court’s redevelopment after local residents issued a legal challenge against the councils who approved it.
Local residents, represented by the West Kensington Estate Tenants and Residents and Gibbs Green and Dieppe Close Tenants and Residents Associations, launched a legal challenge in June against council adoption of the Supplement Planning Document (SPD), the planning guideline supporting the Earls Court masterplan scheme, claiming it was unlawful.
The call for a judicial review was filed against London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, with interested parties listed as EC Properties, Greater London Authority and Transport for London.
In his decision filed on 11 October, High Court judge Sycamore voted in favour of the residents and recommended the case against the councils to a hearing.
“The question as to what constitutes a development plan document and the lawfulness of the defendants’ masterplan for the area in question is clearly arguable and should be considered at a substantive hearing,” the judge’s decision stated.
“There is merit in proceeding on all of the grounds, with the exception of Ground 3 [Breach of Public Sector Equalities Duties and/or failure to take into account a material consideration] which the claimants have indicated they no longer intend to pursue.”
The judge also dismissed claims from the Defendants and Interested Parties that the claim was not filed promptly and should therefore be refused.
“The claim was issued within three months and the explanation advance by the claimants together with the lack of any evidence that it would be unfair or unreasonable to proceed persuades me that permission should be granted,” judge Sycamore said.
Local resident and community campaign organiser Jonathan Rosenberg was delighted by the news.
“The High Court actions are queuing up like planes on the flight path into Heathrow,” Rosenberg claimed. “Thanks to this judgement, the rate at which we are bleeding the Earl’s Court scheme to death has increased from £1.5 to £2 million a month.”
The Defendants now have 35 days to contest the claim, while the claimants have 21 days to lodge any further evidence and 28 days to file and serve a trial bundle.
A spokesperson for Capital and Counties, the developer leading the Earls Court redevelopment scheme, was unable to comment at time of press.
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