Our legal case against Hammersmith & Fulham Council

The series of posts below explain that our residents association is continuing to prepare a judicial review application, challenging the decisions of Hammersmith and Fulham to issue a planning permission for the second phase of the Imperial West development.

The planning application was approved by the council’s Planning Applications Committee on July 25th 2012.  Six months of negotiations between Imperial College and the council then followed.  The planning permission was issued on December 21st.

We are asking local residents and businesses to contribute to our legal costs.  Having raised £2,500 previously from amongst our 280 members (a sum which was then matched by the Kensington Society) we are concentrating this time on the households that will be most affected by the Imperial West development.  These are the houses in Oxford Gardens, and the southern ends of Wallingford Road, Finstock Road, Balliol Road, and Wallingford Avenue.

We ask all these households to think what the development will mean for the daily views they have of their streets, and from their windows, and what they are willing to contribute to try to force a rethink on the proposals.  If the planning approval was quashed by the courts, the current politicians in charge of the council may have second thoughts.  And the May 2014 Borough elections are not that far away.

How the development will look from Oxford Gardens

As a first stage in a Judicial Review, our lawyers sent to the council last month a ‘Letter Before Action’.  This sets out two grounds, as advised by a leading planning QC, which render the council’s decision potentially unlawful.

The council has since replied to this letter and this response is being reviewed by our lawyers.

The grounds for judicial review are that:

  • the council erred in law in giving any weight to the emerging White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework
  • the council acted unlawfully by granting planning permission for a development which is in conflict with is Core Strategy policy on affordable housing, without any or any adequate reasons and having misdirected itself as to the correct meaning of policy.

The details of our claim are at this link Webster Dixon Letter before Action.

Local residents may be familiar with the long history of the White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework.  More background is on our campaign website at www.imperialfolly.org.uk.   In a nutshell, the council intended to have this ‘strategic planning framework’ in place before it considered the Imperial West application.  But it has never republished the draft version, let alone gone through the necessary statutory consultation process before adopting this document as part of its planning policies.

Many believe that this 18 month delay in republishing the WCOAPF results from the case that the council lost in the courts in March 2012, when its decision to adopt a similar document for Shepherds Bush Market was ruled unlawful in the Wakil case.  The challenge to the Imperial West decision is not a first for the council.  Other decisions on the proposed developments at Earls Court and Shepherds Bush Market are also being challenged through the courts.

Please help with whatever contribution you can make.  This legal battle is not just about the Imperial West development, but also the future of the whole area to the west of the Borough boundary.  This includes the Helical Bar proposals on Wood Lane (with a second 32 storey tower proposed) and which Hammersmith & Fulham are about  to decide on.   The council has pushed the boundaries of the planning system too far in recent years, and only concerted action by the public will ensure that its planning juggernaut is stopped in its tracks.


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