London Bridge station development to proceed

Posted: 8th January 2013

Plans for renovation and substantial remodelling of London Bridge station, the final major component of the upgrade to the Thameslink line, have won the backing of the Court of Appeal. A challenge to the scheme brought by a local campaigner on behalf of the Bermondsey Village Action Group (BVAG) was rejected.

Train CommutersBVAG had challenged the London Borough of Southwark's decision in March 2012 to grant planning permission, listed building consent and conservation area consent for the project. The Mayor of London was also criticised for his decision not to direct refusal of planning permission or to call in the application for his own determination.

The plans will involve the construction of a new concourse, and demolition of existing railway arches, a listed train shed, and other structures. BVAG argued that the permissions were based on a flawed environmental statement and that the council’s planning committee was misled as to the amount of additional retail space the development would create. It was also argued that the mayor’s decision not to intervene was improperly based on costs and inconvenience to Network Rail rather than planning considerations.

However, dismissing BVAG’s appeal, the court ruled that it could not seriously be argued that the environmental statement was so deficient in failing to provide information on alternative schemes as to require the planning process to be re-started. The court emphasised that there was evidence that the provision of new retail floor space was a desirable land use in planning policy terms.

Also approving the mayor’s handling of the case, the court ruled: ‘The Mayor’s power to assume jurisdiction over planning applications is not to be lightly or routinely exercised. The decision not to intervene was taken on the basis of a comprehensive report and evaluation.’