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King's Cross plans face legal test

Holly Sutton, Regeneration & Renewal - 16 February 2007

A campaign group battling developer's plans for the regeneration of King's Cross has launched a judicial review against the council.

Lawyers for Think Again launched High Court proceedings against the London Borough of Camden this week. The group claims that council officials incorrectly led the authority's Liberal Democrat-Tory administration to believe that it was unable to reconsider the provisional consent given to the King's Cross scheme by its Labour predecessors in March 2006. Think Again will argue in the judicial review that the advice failed to follow due process.

The group said councillors at a development control meeting last November should have been given the chance to reconsider the scheme in the light of new information gleaned in public consultations and recent legislation on social housing and the environment.

If lawyers decide there is a case for a judicial review, a higher court could quash the planning permission granted to the King's Cross Central development within two to three months, causing substantial delays to the regeneration of the brownfield site, according to the developer.

Roger Madelin, joint chief executive of Argent Group, the developer managing the scheme, said the threat of a review was already delaying the development.

"If we were completely in the clear we would be doing twice as much work," he told Regeneration & Renewal.

Madelin dismissed the claim that the council failed to satisfy correct planning procedure. "If Stalin was alive he would be very impressed with Think Again's manipulation of the truth," he added.

But Think Again joint chair Michael Edwards said he was "unrepentant" about launching a legal challenge. Edwards said he wants new plans drawn up with "at least" 50 per cent affordable and social housing - as required by the council and London's mayor.

A council spokeswoman said lawyers for the council are drafting a legal response to Think Again's claim. She added: "Decisions taken by (the council's) development control department are legally sound and the claim will not succeed."