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English Heritage, Westminster CC and Ashton v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government.

DATE: 17 Sep 2009

HHJ Mole QC sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge dismissed two s. 288 applications seeking to quash the decision of the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government to grant planning permission for a 43 storey tower measuring 144.3 metres in height Doon Street, Cornwall Road and Upper Ground, London SE1: English Heritage, Westminster CC and Ashton v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government.

An inspector recommended refusal on the basis of, inter alia, impact on the setting of Somerset House and impact on the London Plan designated strategically important view from `St James's Park Bridge to Horse Guards Road`.

The Secretary of State while finding harm to setting of Somerset House considered the benefits of the proposals to justify the grant of permission.

One of the s.288 challenges was brought English Heritage and Westminster City Council. It is the first time that English Heritage have challenged a decision of the Secretary of State to grant permission.

The learned Judge rejected all the ground of challenge from all three claimants.

The third claimant Mr Ashton lived close to the proposed tower and was a member of a local group which had objected. He himself though made no written objection at the local planning authority stage, nor did he make written or oral objection at the inquiry stage. Nor did Mr. Ashton play any part in the presentation of the local group's case, nor any part in its preparation. The learned Judge concluded that he took insufficiently active role in the process and so was not a “person aggrieved” for the purposes of s. 288.

Neil King QC and Reuben Taylor appeared for English Heritage and Westminster CC.

James Maurici appeared for the Secretary of State.

David Forsdick appeared for the developer the Coin Street Community Builders.