Earls Court clears legal hurdle

Earls COurt villagePlans to regenerate Earls Court and West Kensington have cleared another legal hurdle as a challenge to the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for the Opportunity Area has failed.

Capco’s plans for the redevelopment of Earls Court and the surrounding area aim to create up to 9,500 new permanent jobs, and provide 7,583 new homes, new shops, offices, leisure facilities, public open space, a new school, new transport links, healthcare centre and community centre on the 77 acre site.

Mr Justice Keith Lindblom, sitting in the High Court has now dismissed the case brought against the SPD on all four grounds.

The judicial review was brought forward by some residents of the Gibbs Green and Dieppe Close Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) and West Kensington Estate TRA.

As part of the project, the council has entered into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) with Capco to include both estates in the wider development of the area, with estate residents offered new homes within the Earls Court regeneration area and compensation for the disruption of moving.

Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader said: “This is the third legal challenge that has been dismissed since the turn of the year. We now want to put all our efforts into progressing this once-in-a-lifetime scheme so we can reap the huge rewards and bring major, life-changing improvements to Earls Court and the wider area.”

The TRAs sought to legally challenge decisions by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to adopt the Earls Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area Joint Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

They claimed that the SPD was an Area Action Plan and as such a Development Plan Document (DPD), and argued that the council should have followed the statutory consultation and adoption process for a DPD. They also said that the council acted unlawfully and irrationally in adopting a supplementary planning policy which was in conflict with adopted planning policy, and that the council had unlawfully failed to consider the need to replace the social housing lost to the estates’ demolition in breach of the council’s core strategy.

They also claimed that there had been multiple breaches of the SEA directive and Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (the SEA regulations).

All four grounds were dismissed by Mr Justice Lindblom save to the extent that the Councils were ordered to prepare a statement, complying with the SEA regulations, setting out how environmental considerations were taken into account in the preparation of the SPD.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council resolved to grant outline planning consent for the scheme in September 2012. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea resolved to grant outline planning permission for their element of the scheme in November 2012.

Earlier this summer the Mayor of London decided he did not wish to direct refusal of permission or call in the application for his determination.  The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government also decided not to call in the planning application in August.

Residents have now been told when they are likely to move into new housing provided by the development. The new phasing plan halves the target construction period from 20 years to an estimated ten. Just under a quarter (151) of the 760 replacement homes could be ready to be occupied between 2016 and 2018 in the first phase of construction.

The Judge’s decision is subject to appeal.


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