West Ken Residents Granted Judicial Review

Judge says lawfulness of Earls Court plan is "clearly arguable"

Residents of West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates are celebrating after being granted a judicial review of plans to demolish their homes.

The council recently approved the transfer of the estates to developer Capco, so they can be part of the major regeneration of the Earls Court area.

Now however, the residents have been granted a judicial review of the process which agreed the development plan document for the area, which they say was flawed.

Granting the review, Lord Judge Sycamore said: "I am satisfied that … this is a case for full consideration at a substantive hearing. The question as to what constitutes a development plan document and the lawfulness of the defendants' master plan for the area is clearly arguable and should be considered."

Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s planning applications committee, meeting on Wednesday, September 12 approved the proposal for outline planning permission, subject to conditions and a legal agreement for the redevelopment of 57 acres of land at West Kensington and Earls Court.

The approval came despite continued protests from the majority of residents in West Kensington and Gibbs Green housing estates, whose homes would be bulldozed to may way for the scheme.

It also came despite the fact that a design team formed at the invitation of the two local councils involved, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea, said it did not support the application in its current form.

The £8billion regeneration scheme is the biggest new project in the capital since Stratford was transformed by the Olympics and the council says it mean thousands of new homes and jobs.

The planning application, based on Sir Terry Farrell’s masterplan, proposes the redevelopment of the Earls Court Exhibition Centres and Lillie Bridge London Underground Depot as well as the West Kensington and Gibbs Green housing estates.

Along with the recently approved Seagrave Road planning application and an application submitted to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for the remainder of the redevelopment proposals, the council says it would create up to 7,583 new homes, of which 760 will be replacement estate homes and 740 will be additional intermediate affordable homes.

It will also include new shops, offices, leisure facilities, public open space, a new school, new transport links, healthcare centre and community centre and will create up to 9,500 new permanent jobs and 1,500-2,000 jobs per year in construction.

Last month, H&F Council’s Cabinet agreed to enter into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) with EC Properties, a subsidiary of Capital and Counties Properties PLC, and the council says once this CLSA is signed the council will eventually receive a total of £105million, an estimated £54million of which, after compensation and costs, would be available to be reinvested back in the Borough.

It is uncertain at this stage what effect the judicial review will have on the proposed development. Campaigners in Shepherd's Bush attempting to stop the demolition of shops adjacent to Shepherd's Bush Market were also granted a judicial review which rules in their favour, but the council say this does not affect their scheme as planning permission was granted against the borough’s core strategy, rather than the local planning document ruled flawed on that occasion.

A Council spokesperson said: "The High Court action against our planning guidance has no impact on the Council’s recent resolution to grant planning consent, nor does it affect the recent decision to enter into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement with EC Properties LP.

"The guidance, which is used to help determine planning applications in the area, was adopted following a full consultation. We are confident that our procedures were correct and will be vigorously defending the claim. "

The council has 35 days to respond to the order.

October 19, 2012