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Court Rejects Strategic Environmental Assessment Challenge to a London Local Plan

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC
Jeremy Pike

Cappagh Public Works Ltd v London Borough of Sutton, Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, and Prologis UK CCCXXVII SARL CO/13667/2018.

Following a full day’s hearing, the Planning Court (Mr Robin Purchas QC) refused to grant permission to the Claimant and dismissed its challenge the adoption of the London Borough of Sutton Local Plan 2018.

The Claimant had challenged the plan on the basis that a policy which released certain Metropolitan Open Land for employment use had been adopted unlawfully. The Claimant argued that there had not been a proper comparative Sustainability Assessment of the released land and the two alternative site promoted by the Claimant; or alternatively the Council’s reasoning was deficient. The Council  contended that the Claimant’s two sites had been discounted in an early iteration of the emerging Local Plan, for reasons which were clearly explained, and on which the Claimant had made later representations. The Inspector who examined the Plan had accepted the Council’s reasons for discounting the Claimant’s sites, which were within the Wandle Valley Regional Park, and for releasing the employment site, which was not in the Regional Park. The Court in substance accepted the Council’s submissions: because emerging plans were iterative in nature, the Sustainability Assessment could also be iterative, and the Council had explained its reasons for discounting the Claimant’s promoted sites. The Inspector had considered those reasons, and the Claimant had addressed them in its representations. It was not necessary for the Council to undertake the comparative assessment again in the final Sustainability Assessment of the adopted plan, because its earlier assessment was sufficient.

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC and Jeremy Pike appeared for the Defendant Council, instructed by the South London Legal Partnership.