Elmbridge Council told to "swallow pride" and scrap Jolly Boatman development

Date:

04/08/2010

Author:

Jonathan Portlock

Source:

Surrey Comet

Matter:

Garner - Hampton Court Palace

File:

An architect fighting Elmbridge Council's decision to grant a developer permission to build on land near Hampton Court Palace has told the local authority to "save face" and scrap the scheme, following a victory in the Court of Appeal. 

In December 2008, the council controversially gave developer Gladedale permission to build a hotel, residential units and a new care home for the Royal Star and Garter charity on the derelict land where the Jolly Boatman pub once stood.

But Battersea-based architect Keith Garner started legal proceedings last year, arguing there needed to be a judicial review into the decision because the local authority had failed to take account of the special importance of Hampton Court Palace and failed to follow procedures on flood protection.

On Thursday, July 29, Mr Garner, who used to work for Hampton Court Palace, won a High Court appeal granting him a protective cost order (PCO), meaning he will have to pay up to £5,000 in legal costs should he lose, rather than an open ended sum - which his lawyers estimated at about £60,000.

Last year a judge at the High Court turned down his application for a PCO, but the Court of Appeal judges ruled in his favour saying the costs Mr Garner might face should be reasonable.

Mr Garner's legal "standing" in bringing the action had also previously been contested by the council, because he had never written a letter of opposition against the planning application.

However, one of the three appeal judges, Lord Justice Sullivan, said at the hearing he could not understand why the council had claimed Mr Garner had no standing, because he had been involved with the palace for more than a decade. 
The result was a second setback for the council and Gladedale, after the Royal Star and Garter pulled out of the scheme last month.

An exuberant Mr Garner said: "I think Elmbridge Council should now capitulate and throw in the towel. With the withdrawal of the Star and Garter this application can only go ahead if Gladedale finds another care home to come on board. 
"The chances of that are extremely remote in the present economic climate. 
"The council is now defending something that is almost a theoretical point - it is defending its honour.

"I don't think they should be wasting public money on doing this." 

Mr Garner said his victory would allow individuals who were not "super-rich" to start proceedings against organisations. 
He said: "I had to disclose my total savings and they still wanted to know how much my flat was worth.

"People at the council now know how much in savings I have, which is scandalous. But they failed to frighten me out of taking the action.

"In future, people won't have to go through this invasive persecution, because the ruling will make it harder for organisations to frighten people." 
The Court of Appeal ordered Elmbridge Council to pay £15,000 in costs and a judicial review is expected in October.

A council spokesman said the development was still on track. 
She said: "The council's opposition to a PCO has been made precisely to protect the public purse.

"The claimant wants the council's costs to be paid by the local taxpayer, even if he loses the case.

"Gladedale is confident it can secure an alternative care provider for the site. 
"The permission is not dependant on the occupation of any particular provider."