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Archway's defense against CPO not totally unfounded.

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Archway have begun their arguments to the high court against the government's Compulsory Purchase Order and those arguments aren't as flimsy as you might think.

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The High Court proceedings surrounding Tottenham Hotspur's Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the purchase of the land which Archway Sheet Metal Works currently sits on began in earnest this morning. Archway's representative, QC Christopher Lukkart-Mummery began the morning session by presenting the two  prongs of Archway's challenge to Tottenham's acquisition of Archway's land.

The three points are this: (1) the CPO itself is not legal because compulsory purchase orders were never meant to apply to 56,000 seat stadiums; (2) there are serious doubts as to whether or not the stadium will actually ever be built; and (3) there have been material changes to the plan in recent years, which make the CPO untenable. Mr. Lukkart-Mummary addressed only those first two in the morning session and will pick up on the third later this afternoon.

Based on my rudimentary understanding of American law and my much more rudimentary understanding of English law, it seems as though the first argument is the strongest. From my understandings, CPO's are similar, though not identical, to the American legal principle of eminent domain. Basically, this allows the government or one of its agents to acquire (read: force the purchase of) privately held property for public use. That compensation usually must be fair market value.

In this matter, one would have to imagine that Tottenham made every effort to offer Archway's owners fair market value and then some, before turning to a CPO. Regardless, the land being purchased needs to be being used for some sort of public betterment. The usual example is buying houses or land to build motorways. Archway are asserting that the stadium is not for public betterment and, as such, is illegal. This is a pretty strong argument. Archway, allegedly, sits on the site of the center circle for the proposed stadium. It's not on the site of a parking lot, or the Lillywhite House or any of the other things that might actually benefit the community. Tottenham and the government, will likely be forced to show how their stadium will serve to better the community.

The remaining points of Archway's argument are slightly more flimsy. Mr. Lukkart-Mummary relies on Spurs failed application to move to the Olympic Stadium as an example of a reason why there is serious doubt as to whether Spurs will actually ever deliver a stadium. In fairness, that application was made by Spurs over doubts that they would be able to acquire the land needed for the stadium, which in hindsight, seem pretty well founded. Since that gambit failed, Spurs have put all their eggs in the Northumberland Development Project (NDP) basket.

This afternoon, I expect Mr. Lukkart-Mummary will address how the plan for the stadium has been materially altered since it was first unveiled in 2007. Now, 8 years later, due largely to the reluctance of local landowners and the difficulty in procuring government approval for the project, Spurs plans for the construction have been drastically altered. I fail to see how this point could save Archway, but perhaps there's an argument there that I'm not seeing.

So, as a recap, Archway's three points do have some merit, though their strongest appears to be simply challenging the legality of the CPO itself. The afternoon session has just kicked off and you can follow it all thanks to the Haringey Independent.