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Arsenal stadium defends against fresh legal attack

NEWS

Arsenal Football Club faces a legal challenge from local residents seeking to block its £400 million plans for a new stadium. The Islington Stadium Communities Alliance (ISCA) has applied for a judicial review of Islington council's decision to grant planning permission.

The ISCA claims the council failed to carry out an adequate environmental impact assessment of the new stadium and the schemes linked to it.

Plans include HOK's £250 million stadium, a redevelopment scheme for Lough Road by CZWG, and a sealed waste and recyling plant by Sheppard Robson, as well as an Allies and Morrison housing scheme for the existing stadium site.

The ISCA's Alison Carmichael said secretary of state Stephen Byers' decision not to call in the scheme in December was 'an outrageous abuse of the planning process. The plans are far too big for Islington council, ' she said. 'There's a need to look at the impact on the whole of north London, not just the immediate area. The plans do not work and should not have been passed.'

The ISCA is awaiting a date for a High Court hearing. A spokesman for Arsenal said it had asked the courts to deal with the matter quickly. 'We don't believe there is a case to answer, ' he said. 'All the issues were thoroughly considered by the council's planning officers who commissioned independent consultants to analyse the Arsenal's environmental impact. In terms of process, Islington can't be faulted.'

The news comes amid reports that the Football Association is struggling to raise the £715 million needed for its Foster and Partners-designed stadium for Wembley. The FA has until the end of April to prove the viability of its London scheme - or see the national stadium handed to Birmingham.

Paul Spooner, Birmingham's director of economic development, said: 'We expect the government to stick to its commitment. If Wembley hasn't resolved all the issues by the end of April, we expect the government and the FA to say it will go to Birmingham.'

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