Saturday, 29 April 2017

Tenants could derail £8bn Earls Court scheme

Tenants’ groups fighting to save their homes from demolition have launched a High Court challenge which could derail the £8 billion Earls Court scheme.

The West Kensington and Gibbs Green tenants’ and residents’ associations on Monday filed a claim with the High Court against Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea councils.

The TRAs, which want to prevent their homes from being knocked down as part of the regeneration plans and instead take ownership of their estates, claim the councils broke the law when drawing up plans for the Earls Court project.

The TRAs argue that the councils broke the law by designating a planning document as a supplementary planning document, instead of a development plan document, which would have required secretary of state approval.

The case follows a ruling last month in which a judge ruled Hammersmith & Fulham Council had broken the law by using an SPD in its plans for a 212-home regeneration scheme at Shepherd’s Bush market.

The TRAs in the latest case argue that the Earls Court scheme is ‘far more ambitious’ than the Shepherd’s Bush development, and therefore the council has again broken the law.

The TRAs also argue that the plans conflict with adopted planning policy, they breach the equality act, the councils failed to consider the need to replace lost social housing and that they failed to carry out environmental assessments.

A decision by the court to quash the SPD would mean the council having to go back to the drawing board as its core strategy for the development scheme refers to the SPD.

Michael Webster, of solicitor’s firm Webster Dixon, acting for the TRAs, said: ‘The defendants have failed to follow the correct procedures in adopting their regeneration plans despite receiving several warnings from residents and others that their actions were unlawful.’

In a joint statement, Sally Taylor, chair of the West Kensington TRA, and Diana Belshaw, chair of the Gibbs Green TRA, said: ‘The council’s planning policy is not only immoral; now we have asked the High Court of Justice to declare it unlawful.’

Both Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea Councils say they are still considering their response to the claim.

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