Good news for the owners of a five storey building in Clerkenwell Green Conservation Area in London: planning permission has been granted on appeal, for the building’s conversion into an apart-hotel (C1). The grant of planning permission is the latest episode in a long running saga. The background was an attempt by the London Borough of Islington to prosecute the owners, alleging non-compliance with a planning enforcement notice. The owners made an application for the prosecution to be stayed as an abuse of process. The court found that the evidence in the case pointed to there having been improper influence in the determination of their planning application which had been aimed at regularising a breach of planning control. Moreover, there was an improper motive in the bringing and continuation of the prosecution proceedings, the Council’s decision-making having been infected by the Council officers’ concern to ensure that nothing should prejudice the prosecution or the attendant Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings. The judge stayed the proceedings. The Council sought to appeal: the Court of Appeal said that the first instance judge had been entitled to find as he did. It rejected all nine grounds on which the Council sought to challenge the decision.
The section 78 appeal was heard within weeks of the Court of Appeal hearing. The Inspector granted planning permission and also awarded costs against the Council.
Melissa Murphy represented the successful appellants.