Day two of the Archway Sheet Metal High Court hearing continued today: the local Tottenham business is appealing a decision to grant Tottenham Hotspur a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to buy the land on which their business lies in order to build a new football stadium. A decision on Archway's appeal is expected by this Friday.
Archway, whose business lies across the street from White Hart Lane and at center circle of Spurs' proposed new stadium, has been locked in a battle with the club for over eight years. Archway's land is the last bit needed to begin construction on the new stadium, and they have staunchly resisted all efforts to purchase the land. Last year, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles granted Tottenham Hotspur a CPO to relocate Archway, and the company has appealed to the High Court. Today's and yesterday's hearings hinge around whether the CPO could be legally granted by the Secretary.
Yesterday's hearings were mostly presented by the lawyers for Archway, who laid out three basic arguments: 1) that the decision to grant the CPO should be revisited since the plans for the stadium have changed since the Secretary made the decision; 2) a CPO should not be granted since the construction of a privately-owned stadium does not meet the requirement of "a public good," and 3) there are doubts as to whether the stadium will ever actually be constructed.
Today's arguments were made by lawyers for the Secretary of State, the Borough of Haringey, on whose behalf the CPO was granted, and Tottenham Hotspur. As with yesterday's hearings, the proceedings were live-blogged by the Tottenham and Wood Green Independent, who posted summaries of the arguments made by the lawyers and tweets from various people following along. Based on the summaries posted online, here are some takeaways from the proceedings:
Archway's case seems weak.
The strongest of Archway's arguments were predicated on the fact that the changes to the stadium plan -- including the proposed number of seats -- had changed since the CPO was granted. Archway's lawyers had suggested that this should in fact invalidate the CPO, since it is not clear whether the Secretary of State would have granted it had this information been communicated at the time. Today's proceedings seemed to punch holes in that line of argument, with arguments being made that not only did the Secretary understand that changes were likely to be made to the proposal, but the CPO was granted with that full knowledge and understanding. From the Independent's notes:
11:27am: Tim Corder (Haringey) QC: The cabinet had the facts before them, as given by officers, and on the basis of the facts it was satisfied the club had met the preconditions for granting CPO.
12:05pm: TC QC: The question is had the SoS been told of discussions around changes could it have reasonably made a difference to his decision.
12:05pm: TC QC: I do not believe it to be the case that it could have reasonably made a difference to SoS decision.
12:07pm: TC QC: That the club should be considering changes is wholly unsurprising given the delay in the SoS decision
I've followed this whole hearing and I'm still trying to work out what ASM's case is. THFC changed plans, SoS knew, OK'd it...and? #SpursCPO— Ben Harris (@_Ben_Harris) February 18, 2015
Moreover, Archway's assertion that the CPO was somehow unlawful because it will not in fact benefit the people and residents of Tottenham was also questioned thoroughly by Tottenham's representative.
12:32pm: Christopher Katkowski (Tottenham) QC: It is not a misdirection to presume validity of public authority decision makers unless and until a court says otherwise.
2:08pm: CK QC: The only challenge can be that the local authority did not have the power to grant the CPO but of course it did.
2:18pm: CK QC: There is over 50 pages of council explanation, tied into the statutory power to grant the CPO, detailing why they think the plans will improve the borough.
Spurs have a "bridge loan" and have secured stadium naming rights.
One of the more interesting things to come out of the hearings is that Tottenham have already been granted a £350m "bridge loan" to help finance the construction of the new stadium, and that, apparently, a naming rights sponsor has already been secured. While this is perhaps not surprising, it is most definitely something that had up until now not been announced by the club. The bridge loan was secured "in the event of a funding shortfall of the stadium," which essentially indicates that Spurs are ready to move on groundbreaking as soon as possible. The identity of the stadium naming rights sponsor was not disclosed.
The £350m referred to is if required in the event of funding shortfall on the stadium as a loan #SpursCPO a contingency fund not cost.— Scott Winchester Esq (@Scott_London) February 18, 2015
Spurs won't have to wait long to get a decision.
Before the hearing it was expected that a decision in the case could be expected within 2-4 weeks of the conclusion of arguments, but Justice Dove (the presiding judge) indicated that he expects to rule on Archway's appeal no later than 9:30 a.m. GMT on Friday morning. Many on Twitter are taking this as an indication that Dove is likely to rule in Tottenham's favor. What's not clear is whether Archway will have any further grounds to appeal again if the decision does not go in their favor.
Whether you are sympathetic to Archway Sheet Metal's position in this case or not, the hearings have made it pretty clear that their tactic has been to delay as long as possible. And while a decision in their favor is still possible, it appears as of now to be only a matter of time. We'll know more on Friday.