A COUNCIL faces a £10,000 court costs bill after admitting it erred in law over plans for one of Scotland's biggest proposed demolition projects.

Campaigners fighting the demolition of four 26-storey towers at Wyndford in the Maryhill area have won a judicial review case after taking concerns to court over a failure to carry out an impact assessment by Glasgow City Council or the Scottish Government.

They argued that there was a failure to act lawfully over a decision to not have an environmental impact assessment over the demolition.

It has been confirmed that judge Lord Lake has ruled following a concession from the council, that "adequate reasons" were "not provided" in terms of the law surrounding use of impact assessments in decision-making. He also said that the council were liable for the campaigners' costs in the action which have been estimated at around £10,000.

The council said it had agreed a joint minute that its decision on not having an impact asssessment "erred in law by failing to adequately explain the basis" of it.

The minute states that the council "acknowledge... that the interests of [the campaigners] were prejudiced by a failure to comply with the relevant requirements and that for this reason alone the decision may properly be quashed by the court".

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Campaigners see the judgement as a victory in their fight to stop £73m development plans put forward by Scotland's biggest publicly funded housing association, the Wheatley Group.

The court decision comes after a "residual risk" document sent to Glasgow City Council to support the demolition plans uncovered a series of serious potential dangers, including danger of explosion and injury to the public including children as well as damage to neighbouring properties and the prospect of claims.

According to construction experts residual risk refers to what remains after efforts to identify and eliminate dangers have been made through controls.

Wheatley refers to the document marked as "residual risk" as a "standard risk assessment" which would allow contractors to put in place measures to "eliminate or mitigate" the risks identified and that campaigners were "scaremongering". They say the document was mistitled.

The council say that they do not accept that its decision over the impact assessment was irrational or not within the powers of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.

A fresh screening opinion will now be formed by another officer in the council’s planning team to decide if an impact assessment is required.

"We are in the process of doing that and do not want to prejudge the outcome of that assessment," said a council spokesman.

The Wyndford blocks have been earmarked for demolition by the Wheatley Group which wants to replace the existing 600 social housing units – only around 10 percent of which are still occupied – with 300 new homes.

The housing association say the project will replace the "dated and unpopular blocks" with affordable family homes, 255 of which will be for social rent.

Nick Durie, of the Wyndford Residents Union, said the action to avoid the impact assessment would have meant that the demolition could go ahead without councillors ever considering whether it should get planning permission. He believes councillors would reject the plans given the chance.

The Herald:

He warned: "It is a victory for residents. I would love to say it rules out demolition but it doesn't yet.

"Another screening opinion [rejecting an impact assessment] will result in another court case. We will challenge it again."

He said the Scottish Government should have called in the plan after residents sought their intervention while the impact assessment was blocked.

Scottish ministers can call-in any planning application at any time as a safeguard against inappropriate development being permitted, adding a further layer of scrutiny.

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They usually intervene where a matter of genuine national interest may be at stake.

The residents union and the Scottish Tenants Organisation (STO) believe the flats can be safely retained and retrofitted. But Wheatley say that it is too difficult and expensive.

The Herald:

The risk analysis prepared for Wheatley Group by G3 Consulting Engineers and submitted in September consists of a map of the proposed demolition area with red triangles marking spots where there are "site specific risks".

The document also warned that demolition works are in "close proximity to nearby buildings" and a "risk of damage and potential claims from neighbouring properties".

Buildings referenced include the Maryhill Hub community facility, residential properties, a central heating plant and an adjacent place of worship, understood to be St Gregory's Catholic Church.

Wyndford estate was designed by Ernest Buteux, chief technical officer for the Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA) from 1959-78. It was built on a 55 acre site at the old Maryhill barracks, was estimated to cost £4m.

The anti-demolition campaign is backed by leading Scottish architects Alan Dunlop, Kate Macintosh and Malcolm Fraser.