High Court gives its ruling on landmark planning case

Wednesday 15 December: The High Court handed down its judgment today in relation to a legal challenge brought by Hillingdon Council against the Mayor of London in May 2021.

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The council had commenced judicial review proceedings against the Mayor on the basis that he had granted planning permission on 30 March 2021 for a significant residential development up to 11 storeys high at the former site of the Master Brewer Motel, Freezeland Way in North Hillingdon.

The grounds of challenge were that the Mayor misinterpreted that part of the planning policy of the London Plan 2021 which relates to tall building developments, he failed to have regard to important information which the council had submitted to him in relation to the air quality implications of the proposed development and finally, that there was procedural unfairness in the way in which the Mayor had determined the planning application.

Although the council did not succeed on the first two grounds, it nevertheless persuaded the Court that there was procedural unfairness in that a technical note from the Mayor's air quality expert was not disclosed to the council, thereby denying the council of the opportunity to make further representations on air quality issues prior to the Mayor issuing his decision to grant planning permission.  However, the High Court has found that in spite of this error, the Mayor would still have lawfully granted planning permission and therefore it has refused to quash it.

Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: ''I am disappointed with the High Court's ruling but have no regret in bringing judicial review proceedings against the Mayor. The location for this development is not suitable for tall buildings and the council also had, and still has, a number of fundamental concerns about air quality issues.

"The planning policy relating to tall buildings is still new and open to interpretation. Therefore, it was the correct approach for the council to ask the Court to provide a definitive ruling and although it was not in the council's favour, I am satisfied that we took every possible step to protect our residents from the harmful impacts of this development.

"The council will reluctantly accept the Court's decision and not appeal. However, the council will continue to monitor this development very closely in its capacity as local planning authority and will ensure that all aspects of the planning permission are strictly complied with."    

Page last updated: 15 Dec 2021