Chelsfield may sue over White City

CHELSFIELD, the property developer, is expected to make a multi- million-pound compensation claim against the Hammersmith & Fulham council if environmentalists scupper its plan to redevelop White City, writes Dan Gledhill.

Chelsfield gained planning permission in October to build a 40-acre shopping centre on the doorstep of the BBC television centre. But the Council for the Protection of Rural England is protesting that the council did not comply with European Law by conducting an environmental impact assessment. The case goes to the High Court next week.

If the court rules in the CPRE's favour, the council would be obliged to consider revoking Chelsfield's planning permission. The CPRE, which claims that Chelsfield does not have the right to build all 4,500 parking spaces planned for the site, is also considering an appeal to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

Chelsfield has been working on the project since 1994. Ian Ritchie, its architect, has drawn up a design inspired by Milan's Gallerias that is intended to create an alternative to Covent Garden. However, the entire project could be scuppered because of the council's failure to follow European law.

The CPRE believes that the development will undermine the Shepherd's Bush town centre and increase traffic problems in an already congested area.

Other groups, including Transport 2000 and Friends of the Earth, have also expressed concern. The London Planning Advisory Committee originally recommended that the borough reject the proposal. LPAC believes that new developments should be built on the sites of existing shopping centres.

Nigel Hugill, managing director of Chelsfield, remains confident that redevelopment will go ahead. "Both myself and the local authority are of the view that the CPRE's action will not cause a delay," he said.

The council argues that the the European directive was not in place when it first granted the outline planning permission in 1994.

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