Sunday, 30 April 2017

Council broke law with housing plans

A flagship Conservative borough broke the law when it tried to push through plans for a 212-home development.

In a High Court judgment on Friday (25 May) Hammersmith and Fulham Council was found to have not followed proper procedures.

The west London council has approved plans for the regeneration of Shepherd’s Bush Market. The plans, submitted by developer Orion Shepherds Bush, include the demolition of a number of shops on Goldhawk Road, which adjoin the site. Orion was granted outline planning permission for the scheme in November.

Traders applied for a judicial review on the grounds that the council did not follow proper procedure in seeking to include the shops in the scheme. They argued that the planning document drawn up by the council was incorrectly designated as a supplementary planning document rather than a development plan document, which applies to larger regeneration schemes and would have required approval from the secretary of state.

Judge Mr Justice Wilkie said: ‘In my judgment the whole thrust, tenor and organisation of the document is about the fact that the area is to be transformed and identifies it as area of significant change.

‘In my judgment they have erroneously failed to characterise this document as an area action plan.’

Mr Justice Wilkie also found that the council had failed to conduct a sustainability assessment and failed to consider whether an environmental impact assessment was necessary. He did however dismiss claims from the traders that the council failed to consult correctly on the plans.

The council now has to go back to the drawing board and adopt a new document to replace the supplementary document.

Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, said: ‘This case has been made necessary by the arrogance of the council, which is out of touch with its residents and acting always in the interests of big developers and for political gain.

‘All of the council’s dodgy planning and housing policies will now be under legal scrutiny and if they do not fundamentally rethink their approach they will be back in court again and again.’

Mr Slaughter said the election of a new council leader on Wednesday (30 May), to replace Stephen Greenhalgh, who has taken a job at City Hall, is an opportunity for councillors to review planning policy.

He said: ‘This should be a chance for it [the council] to pause and review some of the more controversial planning projects, including Shepherds Bush Market.’

The council pledged to carry on with the project despite the High Court ruling.

An H&F Council spokesman said: ‘The High Court ruling on the supplementary planning document does not affect the Shepherds Bush Market regeneration plans or the legality of the recently issued planning consent.’

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