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Norton Folgate objectors granted judicial review

  • Scheme originally thrown out by Tower Hamlets council
  • Mayor of London intervened and approved planning permission
  • Mr Johnson failed to address intervention critera, argues Trust

Heritage campaigners have been granted a judicial review of Boris Johnson’s decision to “call in” controversial plans for British Land’s Norton Folgate project in east London.

Blossom Street/North Folgate scheme for British Land by AHMM et al - rejected July 2015

Battle continues over Blossom Street development

Blossom Street/North Folgate scheme for British Land by AHMM et al - rejected July 2015

Mr Justice Collins allowed objectors the right to challenge the Mayor of London’s initial decision to take over as planning authority on the proposed scheme at Blossom Street.

Mr Johnson intervened last September, two months after Tower Hamlets councillors had thrown out the scheme.

Earlier this month, Mr Johnson overturned the local authority and approved the plans, which feature new offices, retail space and 40 apartments.

However, campaign group the Spitalfields Trust, which has been fighting an ongoing battle against the development, had already challenged the mayor’s original decision to call in the scheme, citing “procedural irregularities”.

It is understood court documents were lodged by the Trust in October, according to Construction News’ sister title Architects Journal.

The campaign group argued that GLA officers could not have properly considered the documents relating to the case in the 24 hours taken to decide to call in the application.

It called for a judicial review on three further grounds: that Mr Johnson failed to have regard for the Trust’s challenge that statutory criteria for his intervention were not met; that he overstated the impact of the development on the London Plan; and that the scheme’s impact on more than one London borough was incorrectly assessed.

A statement from the Spitalfields Trust said: “Boris Johnson has become accustomed to the use of his powers as Mayor of London to intervene in order to decide prominent planning disputes in the capital.

“The GLA website lists 13 such interventions and every one of them has produced the same result… a decision in favour of the developers, and against that of the local authority.”

It added: “The Spitalfields Trust has, through a Freedom of Information request, obtained evidence of procedural irregularities in the GLA’s handling of the case and has launched a judicial review to challenge his intervention.

“This, we believe, is the first legal questioning of the mayor’s conduct in such a matter. It raises issues of wide importance.” 

A statement from British Land stated: “We are disappointed with the judge’s decision to allow the case to proceed to a hearing but remain confident of the final outcome.

“We hope that the hearing will take place as quickly as possible.”

The case is likely to be heard before the London mayoral election on 5 May.

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