The Spitalfields Historic Building Trust unsuccessfully challenged the grant of planning permission for controversial development on Brick Lane in the High Court. In its appeal, it argued that the rule in the Council’s constitution preventing members of the development committee from voting on a deferred application if they had not been present at the previous meeting was ultra vires. Paragraph 42 of Schedule 12 to the Local Government Act 1972, which empowers local authorities to make standing orders for the regulation of their proceedings and business did not extend to depriving members of their vote. The right of members to vote was sacrosanct and could only be removed by express statutory provision.
The Court of Appeal rejected that argument. When the phrase “regulation of their proceedings and business” was read in context, it was wide enough to encompass restrictions on voting by members. While Parliament had identified certain circumstances in which members must be prevented from voting (for example, where they had a pecuniary interest), local authorities retained discretion to restrict voting in other circumstances. It was rational and intra vires the Local Government Act to prevent members from voting on deferred planning applications where they had not attended the first meeting and equally to prevent them from voting if they had not been present for the whole presentation and debate at a single meeting.
A copy of the judgment can be found here.