Search

High Court challenge over London Mayor waving through Norton Folgate demolition

PUBLISHED: 20:04 28 January 2016 | UPDATED: 20:17 28 January 2016

Campaigners figiting Bishopsgate development at Shoreditch

Campaigners figiting Bishopsgate development at Shoreditch

Archant

Campaigners battling to prevent London’s historic Liberty of Norton Folgate being redeveloped with corporate office towers have today been allowed a benchmark legal challenge against the Mayor of London.

Boris Johnson... executive mayor decision Boris Johnson... executive mayor decision

High Court judge Mr Justice Collins has granted permission for a Judicial Review to the Spitalfields Trust against the Mayor waving through the plans in breach of legal procedures.

The Judicial Review challenges Boris Johnson for over-ruling Tower Hamlets Council, which has twice rejected the developers’ scheme in partnership with the City of London Corporation which has been buying up properties in the Georgian conservation area over the past two years.

The Mayor used executive powers at a public hearing on January 18 to “wave through” British Land’s scheme, despite overwhelming public opposition led by TV historian Dan Cruickshank who organized a mass protest last summer with hundreds of people linking hands around the huge site.

Area of Norton Folgate British Land wants to bulldoze Area of Norton Folgate British Land wants to bulldoze

The challenge by Spitalfields Trust comes after they obtained an email from City Hall to the developers which it said breached the statutory time required to go through all the planning application evidence neutrally.

GLA officials at City Hall made a decision before properly considering whether it should be ‘called in’ over the heads of Tower Hamlets council which had already rejected it twice, the trust argues.

The High Court has listed the case for a hearing before May 5—the last week Boris remains Mayor before stepping down.

Where high-rise office blocks are planned at Norton Folgate Where high-rise office blocks are planned at Norton Folgate

“Boris Johnson has become accustomed to using his powers as Mayor to intervene to decide prominent planning disputes,” the Trust said tonight in a statement.

“The GLA lists 13 interventions across London by the Mayor—and every one has been in favour of developers and against local authorities.

“Boris chose in September to focus on two prominent sites—Norton Folgate and the Bishopsgate Goodsyard—when he called them in, both on the same day, with time running out before approaching elections for Mayor.”

'Hands on' protest as campaigners link up to encircle Norton Folgate in July 2015 'Hands on' protest as campaigners link up to encircle Norton Folgate in July 2015

The Trust has obtained “evidence of irregularities” in the GLA’s handling of the case through a Freedom of Information request, so it has launched its Judicial Review to challenge Boris’s intervention.

“The Mayor’s handling of these cases is essentially autocratic,” it adds. “A decision is taken by one man alone which cannot be challenged.

“It is important that correct procedures are followed as a safeguard of the public interest.”

Campaign to preserve Georgian character of Norton Folgate Campaign to preserve Georgian character of Norton Folgate

But such procedures did not happen over the Liberty of Norton Folgate scheme, it points out.

Tower Hamlets council’s refusal was sent the GLA on September 9 and noted as received the next day, together with 550 letters of objection and all the papers that had taken eight months to resolve.

“GLA officers were required to read all these documents, to address the application neutrally without prejudgment,” the Trust insists.

Ancient Liberty of Norton Folgate Ancient Liberty of Norton Folgate

“The Mayor had 14 days to reach his decision. But instead, they sent an email to British Land’s consultants at 10.48am on September 10—before they could conceivably have read all the relevant papers—assuring them the Mayor intended to call in the application.”

Spitalfields Trust contends that this was “unlawful” and “an incorrect predetermination to intervene”.

The Trust has three other grounds for deeming it unlawful—that the Mayor failed to regard the challenge that statutory criteria for his intervention were not met, that he erred in law by overstating the impact on the London Plan and that he erred in law in incorrectly assessing the impact on more than one London borough.

GLA email to British Land

“Yes the report will advise that the application has a significant impact on the implementation of the London Plan and a significant effect on more than one borough and there are therefore sound planning reasons for the Mayor to intervene in this case. The Mayor will make a final decision (calling in the application) following the meeting on (September) 23.”

The Mayor went ahead knowing “the very real risk that the planning hearing (January 18 at City Hall) may be reduced to a charade and his decision overruled, with the consequent waste of time, public money and the GLA’s reputation”.

January 18, 2016: Battle lost for Norton Folgate as Boris waves through redevelopment

Latest East London News Stories

12:45

A campaign by parents to get children in Tower Hamlets reading early has led to a new school library being opened at Shadwell’s Bigland Green Primary.

11:46

A road safety campaign by pupils at a school in Bow has won backing from the mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Yesterday, 17:22

Police have begun using body cameras in Tower Hamlets with a mixed reception from the public.

Yesterday, 17:02

Patients at The Royal London and Mile End hospitals are facing cancelled appointments more than a week after their computer systems were hit by a cyber attack.

Yesterday, 13:20

Choirmaster Jonathan Pease is throwing the church doors open with champagne this spring bank holiday weekend for the public debut of the East London Evensong Choir he has set up on the Isle of Dogs.

Yesterday, 11:22

Today is the last day to register online so you can vote in the snap general election taking place on June 8.

Yesterday, 09:36

Hundreds of volunteers filled the moat of the Tower of London for the British Heart Foundation’s annual fundraiser.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

International hip-hop singer Cream turned up in east London last night to help raise cash for Macmillan Nurses charity at a packed Victoria pub at Mile End in memory of his best pal who died from cancer.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now