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Pathfinder challenged in the High Court

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A landmark legal challenge which could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the controversial Pathfinder programme has kicked off in the High Court.

The potentially groundbreaking action is a last-ditch bid by Liverpool resident Elizabeth Pascoe to save her Victorian home from the government's bulldozers.

Pascoe's house in the Edge Lane housing market renewal (HMR) area of the city is just one of around 400 properties threatened with demolition under the initiative - the highly contentious brainchild of former ODPM chief John Prescott.

Yesterday in court, lawyers for the 59-year old Liverpudlian campaigner claimed the Urban Regeneration Agency, which initially made the CPO operating under the English Partnerships banner, did not have power to make the order in respect of her home.

It was also argued that the process was 'legally flawed' because Prescott misdirected himself in law by approving this compulsory purchase.

Furthermore, Pascoe's counsel Robert McCracken claimed the CPO breached landowners' rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right of respect for family life and home.

Describing the possible impact of the Pathfinder initiative on the area, McCracken told the court: 'Critics say it is, in architectural terms, a return to the bad old days of the 1960s clearances.

'Not surprisingly, the scheme is controversial, both locally and nationally.'

The judge is being urged to quash the decision and order Ruth Kelly, now in charge of planning as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to have the matter reconsidered.

The court hearing is expected to continue today (25 July). However, the judge is expected to reserve his judgment.

by Richard Waite

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