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14.10.15

Much-delayed Ordsall Chord legal challenge dismissed by judge

A judge has dismissed a legal challenge to the much-delayed £85m Ordsall Chord scheme at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today (14 October).

Mrs Justice Beverley Lang dismissed all three claims made by Mark Whitby, former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers: two statutory challenges of the Transport and Works Act order, one of the Listed Building Consent and a judicial review of the planning permission.

Lang also refused permission for Whitby to appeal.

He had brought the legal challenge to the Ordsall Chord order granted in March, saying that his alternative scheme, known as Option 15, could deliver the same performance improvements for passengers as the Chord without the same impact on the heritage of the structures in the area.

But he accepted that Option 15 was more expensive that Network Rail’s proposal.

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The challenge had been previously deferred at the end of September despite calls from the lawyers that Lang give her decision as soon as possible. They also stated that if a judge stops the process to link Manchester’s Piccadilly and newly-refurbished Victoria stations for the first time, the project may never happen.

Network Rail naturally welcomed the judge’s decision, with a spokesperson reiterating that the Chord forms a key part of the Railway Upgrade Plan for the north of England.

“More than £1bn is being invested to provide passengers with better services and we plan to start work on the Ordsall Chord as soon as possible,” they added.

Last week, Network Rail’s boss, Mark Carne, also told RTM that he would like to see a quick decision over the Chord’s judicial proceedings, given that every single day this decision was delayed meant another day that passengers did not benefit from improved services.

He told us: “Connecting up the two stations is absolutely essential for passengers so they can have their journeys connected in better ways. I’m really hopeful that this will be resolved in the very near future.

“It [Ordsall Chord] may still be some period off. But it is literally a day for a day and that means there are thousands of people who are, therefore, not harnessing the benefits of the improvements we are going to make to the network.”

The Chord is a new section of track intended to link Manchester’s three main rail stations for the first time. It will be built north-west of Castlefield Junction, linking that line with the Deal Street Junction line.

However, the line would also intersect the world’s first ever intercity railway line, built by George Stephenson in 1830, and see a number of other Grade-II listed buildings and bridges demolished.

Network Rail’s original plan was to begin construction on the project in late 2014 or early 2015, but the objections and inquiry have significantly delayed the timescale.

Andrew Hamilton, head of the Valuation team at Deloitte Real Estate, said: “This is a positive step forward for Manchester and the wider Northern Powerhouse strategy. There have been many calls for tangible improvements to transport infrastructure and this announcement ensures we will get that in the heart of the city. With the Ordsall Chord we’ll enjoy better connectivity with the two of the busiest stations in Manchester, the rest of the north west and beyond.

“The announcement also reinforces the significance of the Victoria redevelopment project, and underlines the council’s commitment to improve and invest in Manchester’s transport links. Whilst the planning was met with some controversy, the public benefits clearly outweigh the challenges. We hope to see a development that seamlessly integrates modern infrastructure with Manchester’s heritage."

Comments

Mike   14/10/2015 at 17:20

A victory for common sense. Mark Whitby should have accepted the decision of the lengthy public enquiry to build the Chord. I only hope he has to pay the legal fees of the judicial review.

Lutz   14/10/2015 at 18:44

Should the case have been dismissed so lightly? It would appear on the surface that too much consideration has been give the progress of the construction work rather than considering the case on its merits.

Dannyb   16/10/2015 at 11:54

Soon as you read Andrew Hamilton's comment, you know it's politically topical -- so, no surprise on the ruling!

Jb   16/10/2015 at 12:22

While looking forward to provision of this link, I feel the wrong decision has been taken as Mr Whitby's 'Option 15' appeared much more sympathetic to the existing historic environment. If and when NR's proposal is built, it will leave a scar on the locality and I believe we and future generations will live to regret not taking more care of this piece of local heritage.

Neil Palmer   20/10/2015 at 03:53

The least Network Rail could do is include a flat crossing to allow access to & from MOSI.

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