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Shell Centre redevelopment: High Court challenge fails

Work on the redevelopment of the Shell Centre could start later this year after local resident George Turner lost his High Court challenge to the decision to approve the scheme.

Shell Centre redevelopment: High Court challenge fails

Plans to build nearly 900 homes on the prime South Bank site – approved by councillors in May 2013 – were rubber-stamped last summer by communities secretary Eric Pickles after a public inquiry was held at the end of 2013.

George Turner – who had represented residents of County Hall during the inquiry – launched judicial review proceedings on the basis that Mr Pickles's decision and the conduct of the inquiry had been flawed.

A two-day hearing was held at the Royal Courts of Justice last December and Mr Justice Collins' judgement was published this week.

Although Mr Turner's claim was dismissed, Mr Justice Collins was highly critical of John Braithwaite, the planning inspector who presided over the inquiry.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Collins wrote: "I have no doubt that the inspector's conduct was such as to give rise to a real concern that he was unfair to the objectors.

"He seriously mismanaged his conduct of the inquiry. It may well be that the individual decisions he made were justifiable, but the way in which he made them was unacceptable."

In a statement, Braeburn Estates, the developer of the Shell Centre site, said: "We are pleased that the challenge to the secretary of state's decision to grant our planning application to redevelop the Shell Centre has been dismissed.

"We strongly believe that our redevelopment of this important site will be a catalyst for the regeneration of Waterloo, creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of homes, which in turn will benefit London and the UK.

"The planning application has been through a thorough and comprehensive process including a public inquiry and has been supported by Lambeth Council, the Mayor of London, the planning inspector and the secretary of state.

"The secretary of state's decision to grant planning permission has now also been upheld by the High Court and we welcome Justice Collins' decision not to grant leave to appeal. We are hopeful that this is the final stage in the extremely rigorous planning process around this development, and we look forward to commencing work in the near future."

Sir Edward Lister, London's deputy mayor for planning, said: "It is good news for south London that this unnecessary and hugely expensive legal challenge has been dismissed.

"This scheme will provide a huge economic boost for Lambeth and paves the way for hundreds of much needed new homes and jobs. After such lengthy delays, I hope that this is the end of the legal process and that work can begin on this important development."

George Turner said: "I started this case because it is my firm belief that important decisions on major sites which will shape the future our city for generations to come need to be subject to the highest levels of public scrutiny.

"It is only through a fair, open, transparent and inclusive process that we will be able to achieve the development that the city desperately needs. Affordable homes, places for people to work, open spaces for us to enjoy and sustainable buildings that respect and protect our culture and heritage.

"This process did not happen in this case, as it fails to happen in too many cases. It is the reason why we are seeing so many bad and damaging developments in London and across the country. Shell is just one particularly damaging example."

Read Mr Justice Collins's judgement in full

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