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High Court Quashes Planning Permission in Brent Mosque Case

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC
Charles Streeten

Lang J has handed down judgment in Ikram v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2019] EWHC (Admin).

The Claimant, Mr Ikram, lived at 854 Harrow Road. Adjacent to 852 and 856-858 Harrow Road. 856-858 Harrow Road were constructed as two semi-detached dwelling houses and were in residential use for many years.  In 2007 use of 856-858 Harrow Road was regularised for use as a place of worship and community centre by subsequent grants of retrospective planning permission.

852 Harrow Road comprises a former builders’ yard, located to the rear of a dwelling house that had been converted into flats. In 2012 International Islamic Link purchased 852 Harrow Road. It applied in 2012 for retrospective planning permission inter alia to change the use of a workshop into a prayer hall. The application remained undetermined for a period of 5 years following which in May 2017 the Council refused the application for planning permission and served an enforcement notice alleging the material change of use of 852 Harrow Road to use as “residential and a community centre/place of worship”

The International Islamic Link appealed against the enforcement notice on grounds (a) and (g).

The Appeal was determined at a hearing. The Inspector allowed the appeal, quashing the enforcement notice and granting planning permission subject to conditions.

The Claimant challenged those decisions by judicial review and pursuant to section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990  (“the 1990 Act”) on 6 grounds, the first of which was that the planning permission granted by the Inspector permitted development going beyond the matters considered by the Inspector.  The other 5 grounds generally sought to challenge the conduct of the hearing itself and the refusal of the inspector to accept evidence sent to him a month after the close of the hearing.

On 31 January 2019 Ouseley J granted permission stating that the main issue related to the adequacy of one of the conditions the inspector imposed and if that matter were resolved the other matters would also be likely to be overcome.

Following the grant of permission International Islamic Link executed a unilateral undertaking pursuant to section 106 of the 1990 Act, without prejudice to its contention that any conditions were not inadequate, with the intention of addressing the issue referred to by Ouseley J.  The Secretary of State also submitted that the unilateral undertaking overcame any issues concerning the adequacy of the condition.

The Claim was heard by Lang J on 1 May and 24 June 2019. In a judgment dated 17 July 2019 she allowed the Claims on one aspect of Ground 1 only and dismissed the other 5 grounds.

In essence, she held that the planning permission granted did not adequately control the use permitted by the Inspector and that in her opinion the section 106 planning obligation did not cure those defects. She quashed the Inspector’s decision letter and the grant of planning permission, re-instated the Enforcement Notice and remitted the matter for redetermination by a different inspector.

The decision of Lang J is the subject of an application to appeal to the Court of Appeal

Charles Streeten acted for the Claimant, instructed by Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law. The Secretary of State was represented.  Saira Kabir Sheikh QC acted for the Interested Party,  International Islamic Link instructed by James Smith (Planning Law Services) Limited.

A copy of the judgment is available here.