Out-Law News

High Court rejects challenge to Elizabeth House non-call in

The secretary of state's (SoS) decision not to call in a planning application for a £800 million redevelopment of Elizabeth House near London's Waterloo Station was not irrational , a High Court judge has decided. 

The proposals by a joint venture between Chelsfield and London and Regional were approved by Lambeth Council in November 2012. Under the plans, the existing 1960s office block on the site would be demolished and two new buildings constructed, including a 29-storey tower, to comprise 142 homes and 88,649 square metres of office space.

Westminster City Council and English Heritage, which had objected to the proposals because of concerns that the development would have a negative impact on views from the Westminster World Heritage site (WWHS), launched judicial review proceedings following a decision by the SoS that he would not be calling in the application for his determination.

The judge said that the view could "reasonably be taken" that the impact of the proposals were "not such" as would damage the WWHS or other listed buildings and conservation areas. He said that the SoS in exercising his judgment was entitled to "regard the real risk, even the probability, of UNESCO placing the WWHS on the danger list as acceptable". 

"It may be a surprising view to take but I am not persuaded that it quite reaches the level of irrationality," the judge concluded. 

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