Football Club's Crowd Control Challenge to Development Kicked Into Touch

Commercial property owners are often concerned that residential developments may prejudice their longstanding use of their premises. In a High Court case on point, a football club argued that planning consent was granted for thousands of new homes without sufficient regard to the consequences in terms of match day crowd control.

The club's stadium, which has a capacity of about 70,000, stands in one of England's most deprived areas that has long been targeted for regeneration. In challenging the consent, the club contended, amongst other things, that members of the local planning authority were misled as to the additional burden that the development would place upon the club in respect of crowd control measures.

Rejecting the club's complaints, however, the Court noted that a crowd control study provided by the developer and an independent review had concluded that proposed measures to control queuing fans during and after construction of the development would provide greater flexibility and would be at least equivalent to, or a positive improvement on, those currently in place.

The authority lawfully decided that a combination of detailed conditions attached to the consent and planning obligations placed upon the developer were sufficient to ensure that adequate crowd safety would be achieved during the construction phase of the development and thereafter.

The authority had acted lawfully in putting in place a mechanism that encouraged the club and the developer to cooperate in relation to access to the stadium. Neither of them would have the whip hand in negotiations and the authority was entitled to proceed on the basis that socially and commercially sensible actors would behave reasonably in seeking to ensure crowd safety. Other grounds of challenge to the consent were also dismissed.