Members of a community group in the deprived area of Wortley, West Leeds, have won another legal victory in their battle to save their local playing field from development by Leeds City Council.
On 4 August 2021, the Court made an order quashing the decision made by the Council granting outline planning permission to itself for housing on the playing field. The playing field is allocated for development in the Leeds Site Allocations Plan. The allocation was made in the context of evidence demonstrating that there was a small surplus of sports open space in the local ward. Since then, the Chief Executive of the Council has accepted that the space typologies were wrongly calculated and that there is in fact a deficit of sports open space in Wortley. Judicial review of the planning permission was brought on a number of grounds, with the Council consenting to a quashing order on the basis that it had wrongly decided that the tests for development of open space in paragraph 97 of the NPPF were inapplicable due to the playing field being an allocated site.
This quashing order follows a previous victory for the group in a judicial review challenge to the refusal of the Council to register the playing field as an Asset of Community Value. In November 2020, that refusal to register was also quashed by the Court by consent on the basis of an accepted error of law in the Council’s decision making. The Council was forced to accept that the current community uses of the playing field do meet the test of being non-ancillary uses that “further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community”, notwithstanding that the uses may not have formal permission from the landowner. The Council has since redetermined the application and again refused it. That further refusal is subject to a further judicial review application brought by the group which has been granted permission to proceed (see here) and is awaiting a hearing date.
Jenny Wigley QC represents TV Harrison CIC, the community group, instructed by Ricardo Gama at Leigh Day solicitors.