High Court backs Islington in a landmark planning case on affordable homes

A High Court judge has backed Islington Council in a long-standing battle between the council and developer Parkhurst Road Limited, who refused to provide affordable homes on a former Territorial Army site in line with the council’s planning rules.

The developer bought the site on Parkhurst Road in 2013 and has attempted to secure planning permission for a residential development with little or no affordable housing, ignoring the long-standing planning requirements on the provision of affordable homes set by the council.

An initial planning application was submitted in 2013. First Base Limited has been the development manager for this application, assisted by Gerald Eve as viability consultants. The council refused planning permission for this development twice on the grounds of not providing enough affordable housing, as well as other matters.

The case centres around the viability assessment of development and, in particular, how the price of land should be determined in planning, which is a tool increasingly used by developers and their viability consultants in recent years, to avoid complying with councils’ planning requirements on affordable housing.

Two lengthy public inquiries were held, both of which were won by Islington Council. Each time the low level of affordable housing provided on the scheme was being justified by the developer on factors such as the purchase price paid for the site, and land transactions of other schemes. Following the second public inquiry held in early 2017, an Independent Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State, upheld Islington’s refusal of planning permission in his decision of 19 June 2017.

The developer then mounted a legal challenge against the Planning Inspector’s decision at the High Court. The Planning Inspector’s decision was defended in court jointly by Islington’s legal team and the lawyers representing the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Normally, the role of the courts in planning disputes is very limited and restricted to legal technicalities only. However, in this case the Judge Justice Mr David Holgate allowed a fairly detailed examination of planning issues and the development viability evidence in particular.

Today (Friday, 27 April) he dismissed the legal challenge on all three grounds put forward by the developer, and concluded that he was satisfied with the Planning Inspector’s decision to dismiss the developer’s appeal and uphold the council’s decision to refuse the planning application.

Responding to the judgement, an Islington Council spokesperson said:

“We are delighted by the High Court judgement. This decision reinforces Islington Council’s long standing position that developers should abide by the councils’ planning guidelines – rather than overpaying for land and then trying to bypass our affordable housing requirements.

“There is a shortage of good quality, genuinely affordable housing in Islington and a significant unmet housing need. The council is doing everything it can to address this, because we believe that everyone should have somewhere to live that is affordable, decent and secure – and developers must respect these important priorities when they purchase sites in Islington.”

In a highly unusual move, in a postscript to the judgment, Judge Mr Justice Holgate also recommended that the current, widely used, guidance on viability assessments by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) should be revisedin order to address any misunderstandings about market valuation concepts and techniques, the “circularity” issue and any other problems encountered in practice over the last 6 years, so as to help avoid protracted disputes of the kind we have seen in the present case and achieve more efficient decision-making.”

This is something that the council has been calling for over the last couple of years, due to serious concerns about how the RICS Financial Viability in Planning (2012) guidance note was being applied in practice.

Islington Council’s planning guidance on Development Viability is very clear and specifically cautions developers against overpaying for land and using the purchase price as a justification for providing little or no affordable housing. This landmark judgment reinforces what Islington (and many other councils) have been arguing for years that affordable housing requirements cannot be bypassed by using the “dark art” of viability assessments to ignore planning policy requirements.

Read more news of London on our site.

islington.media
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
Children living in London boroughs with high diesel pollution suffer from stunted lung capacity, putting them at risk of early death, a study has said. Pupils living in areas that failed to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limits were at increased risk of lung disease, researchers found. The research studied 2,000 London school children over five years. "We are raising a generation of children reaching adulthood with stunted lungs," researchers said. Academics fro...
Incidents
A private school teacher has been left partially blind after another woman smashed a glass in her face during a night out.  Lisa Bertsch, 30, was at the Be At One bar in Richmond when she was hit in her right eye. The tumbler shattered and left Ms Bertsch, who lives with her boyfriend in Kingston, needing emergency surgery. She said the attack happened when she tried to stop the assailant pouring a cocktail over her friend’s belongings. Ms Bertsch added th...
Society
Discarded syringes have been left in play areas and car parks as a BBC investigation found councils were being called 50 times a day to remove them. Figures obtained by the BBC showed councils handled 18,496 cases in 2017-18, a rise of 7% in two years. A volunteer pricked by a discarded needle has told how he faces a wait for HIV and hepatitis test results. The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was "committed to doing more to reduce d...
Society
The German Zeppelin bombing campaign of London during WWI has been brought to the fore again days before the centenary of the war in a film made by schoolchildren. The first ever example of strategic bombing in history - a tactic used in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying their morale or economy - was during the First World War Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II initially banned attacks on the capital because of his close connection to the...
Society
London’s busiest train station has recruited a hawk to scare off pigeons following a spate of complaints from angry passengers. Aria, a five-year-old harris hawk, has begun patrolling Waterloostation in a bid to stop people having to “fight" off pigeons while eating. There are 27 food and drink retailers at the Network Rail-managed station, and many customers have complained about pigeons pecking at food and leaving a mess. The birds have been pictured sit...
Society
London City Airport is going to fine airlines for breaching noise limits after a surge in complaints from residents.  The airport, based in the Royal Docks, has launched a “penalty and incentive” scheme for planes breaching its rules, and will name and shame them online. Bosses revealed the airport had seen a spike in complaints since launching concentrated flight paths in February 2016. The paths were changed after new air traffic control technology was b...
Society
The Crossrail delay will cost Transport for London almost £200 million next year in lost revenue, the Standard has learned. Latest calculations suggest the expected nine-month delay to the completion of the Elizabeth Line, first revealed in August, will cost the cash-strapped body almost £550,000-a-day.  TfL, which has a deficit of around £1bn, has told the London Assembly it will miss out on £170million income from passenger fares and up to £20million in...
Society
Motorists who park in cycle lanes in one of London’s “Mini Holland” boroughs could have their residents’ parking permits revoked, council chiefs warned today. A crackdown on illegal parking has been launched by Waltham Forest council amid growing anger at the way some drivers are blocking the new routes.  They are being introduced under a £30 million initiative to encourage walking and cycling by building Dutch-style segregated routes, including a three-mi...
Society
‘Only a bloody stark raving alcoholic is bloody drunk at 1.30pm in the afternoon,’ says Air India pilot. A senior Air India pilot was grounded after he failed breathalyser tests shortly before a flight from New Delhi to London on Sunday. Arvind Kathpalia, who is responsible for safety at the airline as operations director, denied drinking on the job and said he would contest the results of the alcohol checks. “It was 1.30pm in the afternoon, only a bloody...