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Council facing fresh judicial review challenge over second grant of planning permission for 110-residential unit scheme

A High Court judge has this month ordered a rolled-up hearing in a second judicial review challenge over Lewisham Council’s grant of planning permission for a redevelopment of part of the City of London Corporation’s Sydenham Hill estate.

In May 2021, in Kinsey, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough Of Lewisham [2021] EWHC 1286 (Admin), Mrs Justice Lang quashed the planning permission for the demolition of Mais House and Otto Close garages, and for redevelopment to provide 110 residential units in a part four, six and seven storey building and a part two and three storey terrace building, and associated development on the site.

The High Court judge ruled amongst other things that a conservation officer’s advice should not have been withheld from the planning committee when it approved the redevelopment.

The planning committee at Lewisham Council subsequently granted permission for a second time in June 2021, by five votes to one.

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The Friends of Mais House community group said the summary grounds for the new judicial review are:

  1. Lewisham misunderstood policy, had no evidence and acted unreasonably in asserting that the scheme was the ‘optimum viable use’, or more accurately, that a smaller scheme was not viable.
  2. The council acted unfairly, in breach of the Statement of Community Involvement and in breach of the obligations with respect to background papers in publishing a large volume of material shortly before the committee meeting and proceeding with the meeting.
  3. The council failed to publish third party consultation responses at all in breach of the requirements on background papers.

The Friends of Mais House has so far raised £43,769 towards a target of £48,000 via Crowd Justice.

It said that the ‘rolled-up hearing’ ordered by Sir Duncan Ouseley could take place as early as April.

Susan Ring of Harrison Grant Solicitors and Richard Harwood QC of 39 Essex Chambers are acting on behalf of a member of the Friends of Mais House.

Cllr Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, said: “The Mais House scheme is a 100% social housing development and will deliver 110 much-needed social homes, helping to tackle the housing crisis facing London.

“The council will be defending its decision at the rolled-up hearing and look forward to bringing this matter to a conclusion so that the scheme can progress.”

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