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North Stand battler set for rematch

PUBLISHED: 11:34 13 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:40 03 March 2010

IT could be the one European fixture that Ipswich Town desperately hoped to avoid.

The fight of one resident against the Premiership club's new £2.7 million North Stand could be set for a replay after she applied to the Court of Appeal to revive her opposition.

IT could be the one European fixture that Ipswich Town desperately hoped to avoid.

The fight of one resident against the Premiership club's new £2.7 million North Stand could be set for a replay after she applied to the Court of Appeal to revive her opposition.

Rose Malster, of Alderman Road, Ipswich, lost a High Court ruling in August after Mr Justice Sullivan rejected her argument the borough council should have ordered an environmental impact assessment before deciding on the club's planning application for its Portman Road stadium.

He refused her permission to appeal, but the council revealed last night she had contacted the Appeal Court to register her intentions.

Judges are set to meet later this month to decide whether to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

But the football club and the council have also contacted the court to suggest Law Lords also use the meeting to decide whether her appeal will be heard in London or whether it will be dismissed altogether.

If the Appeal Court judges decide to refer the case to Europe, a spokesman for the borough council said it could take up to 20 months for a ruling on the North Stand.

He added: "If the European court or the Appeal Court was to find against the council, that could result in an order for Ipswich Town to resubmit the planning application for the North Stand together with an environmental impact assessment.

"Then the council would consider the application again. It will be a long process if it goes to Europe and the ultimate worst-case scenario would be the stand having to be knocked down. But that is an extremely remote possibility – probably less than 1%."

Residents of Alderman Road had complained about the club's plan to build the two-tier 60ft stand, which they said would cast a shadow over their homes and incur nuisance from the building work and the extra fans it would accommodate.

Solicitors acting for Mrs Malster, who was legally aided, argued in the High Court the council should have ordered an environmental impact assessment before it granted planning permission for the stand, which will seat 7,000 fans when it is completed next year.

But Mr Justice Sullivan, who described the construction of the stand as "relatively modest" in the larger scheme of things, said the severe, but highly-localised shadowing effect on a few properties was not sufficient to warrant an impact study.

Refusing Mrs Malster permission to appeal, he said the council had rightly balanced the public interest in increasing the capacity of Portman Road with the extent of the impact on the surrounding area.

The judge added the council had come to the correct decision not to hold an environmental impact assessment prior to granting permission. It did not introduce a new use into the area nor did it significantly alter the scale of the existing use, he said.

But Ipswich Town was left to foot the bill after taking part in proceedings as an "interested party" as it supported the council's defence of the action – despite the club's lawyers remaining on the bench throughout the hearing.

Mr Justice Sullivan said there was "an element of David versus Goliath" in the case and added: "I'm afraid Goliath can have its new stadium, but not its costs."

Mrs Malster, whose solicitors could apply for an injunction to stop further work on the North Stand if the case is referred to Europe, was unavailable for comment last night.

jonathan.barnes@ecng.co.uk

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