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FULHAM RESIDENTS FAIL TO FOIL FOOTBALL CLUB'S REDEVELOPMENT PLANS

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Campaigners have failed in a renewed legal bid to block plans by Fulham FC and its chairman Mohammed Al Fayed for a...
Campaigners have failed in a renewed legal bid to block plans by Fulham FC and its chairman Mohammed Al Fayed for a redeveloped 30,000 seat stadium. Nine locals calling themselves the Fulham Alliance had challenged a high court ruling against them in January

The Alliance had asked Mr justice Collins in the high court to order the government to reconsider John Prescott's decision not to 'call in' the planning application for the new stadium to be decided by him, rather than leaving it to the local council.

They asked the judge to order a rethink of Mr Prescott's decision, taken in his former role as secretary of state for the environment, transport and the regions, claiming that the decision over the stadium was too important to be left to the local authority. They claimed it should be decided by the new minister in charge for planning, the secretary of state for transport, local government and the regions.

But the judge found against them, and now lords justices Simon Brown, Mummery and Dyson have dismissed the latest appeal court move, ruling that the secretary of state had no obligation to 'call in' the decision to decide himself, and that he had properly considered whether exceptionally to call in the application so as to accord the objectors a hearing.

Lord justice Simon Brown said: 'Whatever sympathy one may feel for them in the face of this impending development, they have failed to establish any basis for a legal challenge.'

The judge said that the Premiership club's current stadium, the 106-year old Craven Cottage, is 'dilapidated and plainly in need of redevelopment'.

The protestors had, among other things, argued that the secretary of state had failed, in deciding not to call in the matter, to take into account whether the decision of the council itself had breached Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that every-one is entitled to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.

But the high court judge, rejecting their challenge, said: 'I am satisfied that the Secretary of State has no duty to consider whether the procedures would be compliant with Article 6 in deciding whether or not to call in.'

The campaigners asked the court of appeal to overturn the high court

verdict, claiming that the judge erred in his handling of their rights under the Convention, and in failing to hold that the secretary of state had a duty to give reasons for his decision not to call in the planning application.

However, rejecting the challenge, Lord Justice Simon Brown said that he had reached the 'clearest conclusion' that the ordinary statutory scheme whereby planning applications are generally considered by the local authority - only 130 of 500,000 applications made annually are, he said, called in by the secretary of state - is 'plainly compliant with article 6'.

The campaigners were listed in documents before the court as William Adlard, Dido Berkeley, Lindsey Carlos-Clarke, Jenny Dearden, Christopher Edwards, Susanna Masendie, Paul Mitchell, John Shannon, Roger Weston.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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