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Relta v GLA [2017] EWHC 671 (Admin)

DATE: 07 Mar 2017

The High Court (Collins J) today quashed the decision of the Mayor of London, on behalf of the Greater London Authority, to designate Bromley Town Centre as a Housing Zone. 

The designation would have provided the London Borough of Bromley with £27m of public funding to bring forward various housing schemes in Bromley Town Centre. 

The claimant is involved in the promotion of land in Bromley, whose schemes may have been prejudiced had the area been designated as a Housing Zone.

The claim was brought on the basis that the Mayor misinterpreted his own criteria against which Housing Zone bids were assessed. In particular, the criterion that the designation would deliver a minimum of 1000 new homes. 

Collins J accepted the claimant’s interpretation of this criterion that there should be a connection between the designation and its interventions and the resulting delivery of 1000 new homes, either through housing being unlocked or through accelerated delivery [24].  

It was the claimant’s case that, on the GLA’s own findings, the designation would not achieve this. 

In particular, at least 620 units which the GLA counted towards the total were not unlocked or accelerated by the designation [15].

This was accepted by Mr Justice Collins [17, 19, 21] who also found that the material put before the Mayor was misleading [18] and that subsequent explanations put forward in witness evidence by the GLA were in parts unacceptable [21] and in other parts somewhat extraordinary [22]. The Court also found that existing permissions could not count towards the total, even if they were granted as part of the preparatory work for a bid, unless the designation itself would either unlock or accelerate their delivery [22].

The Courts overall conclusion was as follows: 

19...It is said [by the GLA] that the HZ interventions would assist to facilitate and accelerate the process of development of the town centre bringing advantages both for visitors and residents. That may well be so, but in order to qualify for HZ designation it is necessary to establish that at least 1000 homes need the designation and the GLA funding that would come with it in order to accelerate or unlock the development for which planning permission may already have been granted…

23...It is clear that only sites A and G needed the interventions or the GLA funding. I am afraid I cannot accept the arguments based on Ms Juman’s evidence that it is sufficient to show that there would be advantages when the designation was granted. The need for it to be shown that there are developments for a minimum of 1000 units which require designation to unlock or accelerate them is clear.

Relta Limited v Greater London Authority and London Borough of Bromley [2017] EWHC 671 (Admin)

Andrew Parkinson appeared for the Claimant, instructed by DAC Beachcroft LLP

Gwion Lewis appeared for the London Borough of Bromley at an earlier stage in the proceedings.