Thursday, 11 October 2012

West Ken: Judge rules against H&F

West Ken & Gibbs Green Estate
Dramatic developments this evening in the battle over West Ken & Gibbs Green Estate, which our Council wants to demolish but the majority of residents want to save. I've reported on some of the sharp practices our local authority has been deploying against the residents in the past, and this culminated in September with the handing to police of a report alleging misconduct in public office - which is a serious criminal offence.

The local press thus far have been unimpressed, with one reporter repeatedly referring to the "doomed" estates.

But in an extraordinary move this evening a Judge sitting at the High Court of Justice has ruled that there is indeed a case to answer. Judge Sycamore is far from impressed with our Council's shenanigans, and has had this to say:

"..the lawfulness of the defendants' [Hammersmith & Fulham Council] master plan for the area in question is clearly arguable and should be considered at a substantive hearing."

Let's just remind ourselves that the Judge is talking about plans that the Council have insisted are lawful. It seems that this is, in fact, in doubt. Devastating.

And the Judge gives short shrift to our Council's expensive lawyers who tried to get the application by the residents thrown out on the grounds it was submitted late. He had this to say:

"The defendants and interested parties [Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Developers] argue that the claim was not filed properly and that permission should be refused. I am not persuaded that the claimants [the residents] should be denied permission on this basis."


He then goes on to give a series of directions in his ruling which you can read for yourself in the document below. There will therefore now be a full scale hearing at the High Court.

Residents coming together to fight for their homes - no multi million budgets here
Reacting to the ruling a residents spokesperson said this evening:

"Despite the outcomes of the Cabinet Meeting on 3 September and the Planning Application Committee on 12 September, the Council and CapCo will never succeed in demolishing our homes, causing harm to vulnerable people and disrupting well-established community networks, to please greedy developers and for the sake of gerrymandering".

The importance of this extraordinary development, to me, is threefold.

Firstly, this is another case of residents faced with the might of multinational property developers, a Council determined to ride roughshod over them and even the London Mayor who have managed not to be intimidated or go away - and have just won an important victory by the strength of their arguments alone.

Secondly, this is far from being the first time our Council's willingness to use sharp practices has put them on the wrong side of the Courts. Think back to this ruling over Shepherd's Bush Market.

And thirdly this ruling puts the whole damn shebang at risk of never happening at all - the enourmous public expense that will now be incurred by our Council on lawyers fees should make them sit back and think about it alone. That's your money they're burning after all. And if indeed the legality of their plans are debatable then it follows that they may never happen at all.

It just goes to show - bullies never win in the end. But then this nine year old little girl could have told them that.Earls Court SPD - Order Granting Permission 2012 11 10


  1. Amazing scenes. The wishes of the majority of residents not to be subject to demolition should have taken precedence in the first place.

  2. You're reading a lot into a judge saying the case is 'arguable'; this is often a term of faint praise amongst lawyers. Judges like litigation - and are reluctant to deny people their day in court. Wait and see.