Over 7,000 objections were made to the application on grounds relating to gentrification, community cohesion and heritage impacts.
The Claimant alleged that the grant of permission was unlawful on three grounds, namely that: (i) members of the Development Committee had unlawfully been prevented from voting on the deferred application if they had not been present at the previous meeting; (ii) the Council unlawfully prohibited public speaking at the deferred meeting in contravention of its constitution; (iii) the Council failed to have regard to emerging policies in the draft Neighbourhood Plan.
All grounds were dismissed. Morris J held that:
(i) Every member of a local authority council or committee has a prima facie entitlement to vote on relevant business. However, the Council’s constitution lawfully prohibited members of the Development Committee from voting on deferred applications if they had not been present at the previous meeting. Paragraph 42 of Schedule 12 to the Local Government Act 1972 empowers local authorities to make rules “for the regulation of their proceedings and business”. Rules preventing members from voting in certain circumstances fell within the ambit of paragraph 42 of Schedule 12 LGA 1972 and were lawful. The judge distinguished the case from In the matter of Hartlands (NI) Ltd  NIQB 94; R(Ware) v Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council  EWHC 913 (Admin) and R (Etherton) v Hastings Borough Council  EWHC 235 (Admin). While a similar constitutional provision had been found to be unlawful in Hartlands, the legislative framework in that case controlled only the “procedure” to be adopted at meetings which was narrowed in ambit than “proceedings and business” in the LGA 1972.
(ii) The Council’s constitution did not provide for a clear delineation between when public speaking would and would not be permitted on deferred applications. The relevant paragraphs of the constitution were not drafted precisely and did not fall to be interpreted as if they were statutory provisions. It was a matter for the Council’s general discretion whether to permit public speaking. That discretion was exercised lawfully on the facts of the case. The Claimant had already made written and oral submissions at the first meeting and had been given the opportunity to make written submissions in advance of the second meeting.
(iii) The officers’ reports referred to the draft Neighbourhood Plan. While they did not specifically mention relevant draft heritage and design policies, those matters had been addressed in substance which was sufficient (R(Lensbury Ltd v Richmond upon Thames [2016[ EWCA Civ 814).
A copy of the judgment can be found here.
Isabella Tafur acted for the Defendant, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.