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Railway Station Development Go-Ahead

Train StationA campaigner has failed in a High Court challenge to plans for the redevelopment of Twickenham Station and construction of 115 residential units, rising to a height of up to seven storeys. Arguments that the development breached local planning policies and that the local authority had failed to take into account alternative proposals were rejected by the court.

John Watson, a member of the Twickenham Residents Association Group (TRAG), argued that the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames had failed to take into account relevant considerations before granting planning consent for the project to developers, Solum Regeneration Limited. It was submitted that the council had failed to have due regard to ‘plan B’ proposals put forward by TRAG and objections to Solum’s plans from the Twickenham Advisory Panel (TAG), a body that had been established by the council’s leader to advise on development issues.

It was argued that TRAG’s alternative proposals had been costed and professionally assembled by planning consultants and engineers and that the provenance of TAG’s report was such that the council’s planning committee had been required to take it into account. The proposals were also said to be in breach of a local planning policy restricting the height of new buildings in and around the railway station.

However, dismissing the challenge, the court noted that Solum’s proposals had been accompanied by an environmental statement and a detailed townscape study justifying departure from the height restriction. The council had accepted the developer’s arguments that the scale of the development, the relatively high number of retail units and the absence of affordable housing provision was justified by the need to fund major changes to the station’s lay-out that would cost from £3-4 million.  A smaller development would not be viable, Solum asserted.

The court ruled that it was ‘untenable’ to argue that the project was not generally in accordance with the development plan.  The TAP report was not ‘by any stretch of the imagination’ in the category of material to which the council was obliged to have regard and each of the points it raised had in fact been considered by the planning authority. It was also clear from the officer’s report put before the planning committee that TRAG’s ‘plan B’ had in fact been considered and it was a matter for the council to decide how much weight to attach to the alternative proposals.