The Judge has decided against our Claim for a Judicial Review

A Judge has given his decision. In a paper exercise, he has ruled against us. His ruling concurs with the arguments of the Defence and Interested Parties, concluding that our Claim should not go to a Judicial Review and it is ‘Totally Without Merit’. This rules out the possibility of making a request for our Claim to be considered in person.

There are a number of factors which concern us about the whole legal process.

The case depended on us showing that the 13 year period for agreeing reserved matters was absurd, unusually long and must have been a mistake – even for a large scheme to be built out in 3 phases. A witness statement from the GLA planning officer who was involved in drawing up the outline permission was able to show the 13 years was a deliberate choice. 

We have been asking since April 2018 to know why they do not think the permission has timed out. The GLA and LB Lewisham both declined to give us a clear answer on the legal basis. They told us that it was their “legal privileged” not to reveal it. It would probably have avoided the need to apply for a judicial review had they told us in a way we could accept.

We had an ‘Intervener’, that is someone, in our case a former barrister, who believes something important is being missed in the Claim. The argument they submitted to the Court was that our Claim should be considered a Substantial Planning Case which had considerable public interest. Also that in not applying a timing for making reserved matters applications to each phase, they were giving too much control to the developers. The aim of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act is to give the Planning Authority control over the development process and prevent sitting on land until its value increases. This is known as “land banking”. Therefore they are defeating the purpose of the Act, which is unlawful. 

This intervention was to raise the importance of our Claim and show there was another level to be considered, which is as relevant now as it was at the time the outline planning consent was granted. This was not accepted by the judge who said he had already made the decision by the time he read it. 

LB Lewisham as the local Planning Authority, has no real control of the process. The developer, if they choose to do so, could wait till the day before the end of 13 year period to submit the remaining reserved matters application. The applications do not need to be approved before the 13 year limit is reached so long as they have been submitted, then they could take a further 15 years for construction. That means a possible 30 years before the development is completed. That is the absurdity of it.

As it stands, bringing forward the development in a reasonable and timely way depends on the persuasive powers of the planning officers and the good will of the developer.

We considered going to the Court of Appeal and sought a second opinion on whether that was feasible. It was clear we did not meet the grounds for appeal. There are very tight grounds in law to argue for a judicial review. We have not been able to make our point within these constraints. We are not able to have our day in court!

The judge did allow our costs to be capped at £10,000 under what is known as the Aarhus Convention, though he did not accept our request for a reduction to £5,000. He made an order for us to pay £8,000 costs to LB Lewisham and £2,000 to the Mayor of London/GLA.

With your support we have raised £15,000. After deducting our barristers’ fees, the fee for the second opinion, court fees, Crowd Justice costs and a small amount for printing and posting legal documents, we have just over £5,000 in hand. We now need to raise a further £5,000 to be able to pay the costs of £10,000.

We are continuing our Crowd Justice Campaign to raise this £5,000. Our stretch target remains at £20,000. 

With your help we can achieve this. We have just over 100 Crowd Justice Backers. Some of you have given more than once. Thank you for your support. 

We can reach our target of a further £5,000 if 100 people give £50. Can you give £50? Can you ask a friend to give £50 or a number of friends to give £50 between them? Any amount is helpful, though, whether more or less than £50. Give here: http://www.crowdjustice.com/case/v4d-action-for-a-judicial-review/

This is a big disappointment for us, but it’s not the end of our campaign!

We will keep you informed of our next steps to ensure that:

  • The heritage of the Deptford Dockyard is respected
  • There is more genuinely affordable and social rented housing on the site
  • The needs of children and young people are met
  • There is more green and public space
  • Steps are taken to make the development more sustainable and take into account environmental issues.
  • We keep the local Deptford community informed of developments concerning the Convoys Wharf site and 
  • Put pressure on the developers to do their public consultations in a meaningful way

We have been heartened by the level of support and the strength of feeling for our campaign to transform this outdated development. Thank you all.

If we can’t acknowledge history, with both positive and negative consequences, and build truly inclusive, healthy developments, what future do our children and coming generations have in London? To quote Chris Packham when his claim against the HS2 rail link was recently turned down by the Court of Appeal, “And please remember winning is not standing outside a courtroom with a smile on our faces. Winning is not giving up.”

Image: Blind Justice

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