Lord Justice Lewison has refused permission to appeal the decision of Mr CMG Ockleton, sitting as a Deputy High Court judge to refuse permission to proceed with judicial review of a purported decision of Lambeth Council relating to the Westminster Bridge Regeneration Scheme. The hearing in the high court lasted a day (refer to previous news item).
The Westminster Bridge Road Regeneration Project is a large multimillion pound regenerative scheme of works designed to improve highways safety and use in central London. Consultation on this scheme started over 5 years ago. As part of the scheme of works, Lambeth had decided in September 2018 to install a crossing outside of Lambeth North tube station. The location of this crossing was directly in line with an access point, which does not benefit from planning permission, used by the Appellant.
The Appellant, the owner of the landmark Lincoln Tower, initially sought to judicially review this decision alongside a number of letters sent by Lambeth Council relating to the legality and future use of the access point. Furthermore, the Appellant obtained an ex parte injunction which prevented the crossing being installed. Permission was refused on the papers and the injunction discharged.
The Deputy High Court Judge refused permission on the basis that, whilst a letter sent by Lambeth arguably amounted to an unlawful decision, there were no grounds for judicial review. Furthermore, there could be no challenge to the decision to implement the scheme. The works are now installed and completed.
The Appellant sought to appeal this decision. Lord Justice Lewison refused permission.
What will reassure local authorities is that he called into question whether this correspondence did amount to a decision, let alone a challengeable one, a submission that Lambeth had maintained throughout proceedings. He stated:
“I am very sceptical whether an assertion in correspondence about the claimant’s (lack of) legal right to cross the footway with vehicles is “unlawful” in the JR sense, even if the assertion is factually or legally incorrect. Correspondence emanating from lawyers is frequently wrong. I am equally sceptical that correspondence amounts to a “decision” (unless it be a decision to permit use of the crossing until 10 May 2019.”
He further went on to note that even if the letters were found to be arguably unlawful, the appeal had no real prospect of success.