High Court quashes residential consent at the former London Chest Hospital

Trees Heritage

The High Court (Sir Duncan Ouseley sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) has quashed a planning permission and listed building consent for residential development of the former London Chest Hospital, finding that the Council had misinterpreted paragraph 175(c) of the NPPF relating to the loss of or deterioration of veteran trees.

The development proposal involved the relocation of a veteran mulberry tree. The Council found that the tree was more likely than not to survive the relocation, but that there was a risk that it may not.

The Claimant claimed that (i) in considering whether the risk of loss was acceptable, the Planning Committee was advised to take into account the fact that, even if the tree were lost, the development would still comply with paragraph 175(c) of the NPPF; (ii) on the correct interpretation of paragraph 175(c), the existence of “wholly exceptional circumstances” and the existence of a “suitable compensation strategy” were separate and cumulative requirements and (iii) the Council had erred in taking into account the suitability of the compensation strategy in considering whether wholly exceptional circumstances would exist in the event that the tree was lost.

These arguments were accepted, and the decisions were quashed.

Other grounds relating to the Council’s consideration of the heritage impacts of the development were dismissed. Of particular note, the Court considered the effect of the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal in R (City & Country Bramshill Ltd) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2021] EWCA Civ 320 at paras. 58-82.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

Andrew Parkinson appeared for the Claimant, instructed by Harrison Grant Solicitors.

Rupert Warren QC appeared for the developer, Crest Nicholson, instructed by Pinsent Mason Solicitors.

Alistair Mills submitted written submissions on behalf of the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government.

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