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Court of Appeal backs London Bridge scheme

Out-Law News | 03 Jan 2013 | 3:28 pm | 1 min. read

Three judges have rejected a challenge to Southwark Council's grant of permission for the major redevelopment of London Bridge Station.

The scheme, which is part of Network Rail's £6 billion Thameslink Programme, includes plans for a new concourse as well as new retail space and a 65 metre office building to be located over the tracks.

The Court of Appeal refused to quash the Council's grant of permission from March 2012 and rejected all the four grounds of challenge brought by Bermondsey Village Action Group (BVAG), including a claim that the environmental statement submitted by Network Rail had been "deficient and unlawful" in failing to provide information in relation to alternative schemes considered.

"It cannot in my judgment seriously be argued that, in the circumstances of this case, the environmental statement is so deficient for failure to consider alternatives that it could not reasonably be described as an environmental statement," the Court said.

The BVAG had also argued that the Council's planning committee had been misled as to the amount of additional retail space to be permitted in the development and "had they not been misled, they might have reached a different conclusion".

However, the Court of Appeal said that while there was "room for argument" as to whether the proposed development provides "significant increased retail space over existing", it did not "consider it arguable" that the committee's decision would have been influenced by having further information.

"The London Bridge District Town Centre is an opportunity area and there is evidence that the provision of new retail floor space was an acceptable, and indeed desirable, land use in planning policy terms," the Court said.

The Court also rejected that the Mayor of London's decision to allow the Council to determine the application itself had been based on "costs and inconvenience to Network Rail" rather than planning considerations. It said that the Mayor's decision not to intervene had been "taken on the basis of a comprehensive report and evaluation".

"The Mayor had to consider the proposal actually before him and weigh the claimed public benefits with the loss of heritage involved. The allegation that the decision had been taken for reasons other than those stated in the reports is a serious one and is strongly denied," the Court said.