Those admirably dogged residents of West Ken and Gibbs Green estates won a significant victory last night when a judge granted them permission to take the Earl's Court development to the High Court.
This means nothing in isolation of course (they still have to win their case) but being given the permission, with the judge clearly thinking a challenge was legitimate, means some serious rethinking of the whole project may be necessary. With the twin pronged attack by the residents also challenging the government to stand by their claims for the Big Society, we predicted that the granting of outline permission would not be the end of this affair. Now the matter is in the High Court it is naturally difficult to predict outcomes but the residents have put together a very strong case which features some fairly serious allegations against the council. The possibility that the residents may win should be haunting the council and the developers, CapCo. If a High Court judge rules that the estates should be protected, the whole master-plan will require redrawing and the council will lose out on £100 million from the conditional land sale (and, they would claim, lots of new housing). They may also have to repay CapCo the upfront fifteen mill the developer coughed up although this is not clear.
It has long been our assertion that the approach and strategy of the council towards CFC and Stamford Bridge was questionable. Hopefully, those who chose to believe their claims will be starting to see how high the stakes have been for them.