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King's Cross Railway Lands Group (KXRLG)

King's Cross Think Again campaign: Press release of 25 March 2007

King's Cross development: High Court grants order to limit costs if legal challenge fails

The High Court has granted a Protective Costs Order to limit to 10,000 the costs campaigners would pay if they lose the judicial review they are seeking against Camden Council. Mr Justice Collins, in an order made on 22 March, stated that the questions raised by the campaigners 'may be in my view of general public importance'.

The campaigners, led by the King's Cross Railway Lands Group, are challenging Camden's decision last November to give outline planning consent to the 2bn King's Cross Central development. Lawyers for the campaign, led by John Hobson QC, argue that Councillors were wrongly advised last November that they had no discretion to look again at a provisional decision made in March.

'We are pleased and relieved that the court has made this order,' said Michael Edwards, co-chair of the King's Cross Railway Lands Group. 'It makes it possible for us to put our case that Camden's decision should be looked at again. We are very heartened that the court understands our case is not frivolous.'

The group's solicitors, Leigh Day & Co, had additional expert advice on the case for the Protective Costs Order from Dinah Rose QC and Ben Jaffey of Blackstone Chambers.

Last month Mr Justice Collins agreed to allow a 'rolled up hearing' of the case, which means that the application to have a judicial review is heard first and, if that succeeds, the actual case is heard immediately afterwards. The hearing is currently scheduled for the end of May. In his order last month granting the hearing, Mr Justice Collins also ordered that 'in the meantime, no building which is listed or which may be required to be retained should be demolished'. Developers Argent King's Cross are appealing against this effective injunction. They demand that it either be set aside or that the King's Cross Railway Lands Group should be held liable for any damages caused by delay. This hearing is likely to be some time in April.

The first building which could be demolished would be Stanley Buildings North, a listed 1860s tenement block next to St Pancras station. On 14 March Camden's Executive agreed to sell the whole of Stanley Buildings to Argent. A request by a number of Councillors to have that decision 'called in' to Camden's Resources and Corporate Performance Scrutiny Committee has since been accepted, though no date yet set. One fear is that, if Argent gets the injunction lifted, they could demolish the buildings before the judicial review has been heard. There are concerns, too, that the sale price agreed, allegedly about 3m, may be an under-valuation.

An attempt at Camden's Development Control meeting last Thursday (22 March) to agree a detailed planning application to realign Pancras Road-which would involve demolishing Stanley Buildings North-had to be postponed as the meeting ran over time. This detailed application is not likely to be heard now till after Easter.

Michael Edwards added: 'We have never wanted to delay construction, which is why we urged Camden to think again before giving final consent last year. But there's a lot at stake for the people who live and work in King's Cross: we need more housing that ordinary people can afford, more small enterprises to help create real local jobs, more measures to reduce carbon emissions, and more respect for the buildings which make the area what it is.'


Note to editors
A pdf of Mr Justice Collins' order of 22 March is attached here. A press release from Leigh Day & Co which further explains the legal process can be found at http://www.leighday.co.uk/doc.asp?cat=844&doc=1081
o Michael Edwards, co-chair of King's Cross Railway Lands Group, is principal spokesperson for the King's Cross-Think Again campaign: phone 07813 194401, email office@kxrlg.org.uk
o Sharon Steward, at Leigh Day & Co, on (020) 7650 1319 is press contact for KXRLG's solicitors.
o Further information from Diana Shelley, press officer for the campaign, phone (020) 7609 0054 or email diana.shelley@btinternet.com. Diana can also supply contacts for campaigners on specific topics, such as housing, conservation and heritage, energy and environment, the Regent's canal.
o The King's Cross-Think Again campaign is a consortium of local groups and individuals, led by the King's Cross Railway Lands Group which has campaigned for regeneration in the area for nearly twenty years. Other groups include King's Cross Conservation Area Advisory Committee, Regents Network, Cally Rail Group and members of Camden Green Party. More information online at www.kxrlg.org.uk.

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