From the Beckenham and Penge NEWS SHOPPER
Wednesday 21st July 1999

Exclusive by Michael Hamilton

A single mum has won the right to take Bromley Council to the High Court over the controversial Crystal Palace development.

Diane Barker, 28, has been granted a judicial review of the council's decision to grant planning permission for a £58 million cinema and leisure complex.

Miss Barker - who lives in Anerley Hill with two-year old daughter Alexandra - said: "I'm over the moon. I had my doubts it would go through but when I was told the news I was running around my flat. I'm even more confident now."

As reported in the News Shopper last month, Miss Barker - who has won legal aid to fight her case - will argue an environmental impact assessment should have been carried out before the multiplex got the go-ahead.

And she will claim proper consultation on the scheme was not carried out.

She said: "I'm doing this for me and my little girl and her future. We go to the park nearly every day and wouldn't go if it was built - it's such an eyesore."

Miss Barker's solicitors - experts on environmental issues - say she has a 75 per cent chance of winning the review.

The case will be heard by the High Court's planning division - with different judges from those that conducted previous hearings.

Bromley Council has defeated several legal challenges to the development, including a High Court judicial review brought by the Crystal Palace Campaign.

The council's legal expert Walter Million said: "I am disappointed the judge gave leave for this judicial review.

"We would expect to win and the council's defence of the application to succeed."

Bromley Council and Miss Barker's solicitors have asked the High Court if the review can be brought forward and it is likely to be heard this autumn.



Bromley Council's bill to fight the judicial review could hit six figures, the borough's legal spokesman has said.

The council - which won costs and is claiming £100,000 after it won a judicial review brought by the Crystal Palace Campaign - has warned this case could cost them the same amount.

But it will be more difficult for Bromley to recover costs as Miss Barker is on legal aid.

Bromley's borough secretary Walter Million said: "If this case goes the full distance we are probably talking about a similar figure to the last time.

"If we win we will claim costs but there's a complication as Miss Barker is legally-aided and the High Court may be less willing to give us costs.

"It's all public money and the whole thing will come out of public funds."

But Miss Barker has only asked for £7,500 in legal aid which her solicitors believe should cover their costs.

She said: "I'm part of the public so I should be entitled to use the money to defend something I think is wrong."

The Legal Aid Board will pick up the tab for the case and pay Miss Barker's solicitors.

So the board does not yet know how much the case will cost.

Legal aid applicants have to pass a means test and merits test.

A Legal Aid Board spokesman said: "The means test considers the applicant's financial status.

'The merits test looks at the legal merits of the claim to establish if there are reasonable prospects of success."

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