High Court clarifies consultation requirements for planning applications
Eagle Wharf is the largest photographic studio complex in Europe and is used for photography and film work, including fashion shoots and television programmes.
In the recent case of Holborn Studios Ltd and Del Brenner v Hackney Council  EWHC 2823 (Admin), there is concern regards the redevelopment of Eagle Wharf in Hackney, London.
The redevelopment included the demolition of most of the existing buildings and the construction of a mixed use scheme containing residential, commercial and café floorspace. After the application was submitted, the applicant made a number of changes to it, including increasing the amount of office floorspace by 34%, reducing the number of residential units by 22% and losing all of the affordable housing which had been proposed initially.
In terms of the application documents, only the drawings of the existing buildings and the demolition plans remained unchanged: 16 new plans were submitted together with a series of amended documents in substitution for those originally submitted.
Holborn Studios Ltd, who occupied Eagle Wharf under a lease and occupied the complex, did not receive notice of the changes. In fact, nobody who had made representations to the application as initially proposed was notified; there was no press advertisement, no site notice or any other consultation. The revised application was considered by the Council’s Planning Committee and permission was granted for the redevelopment.
Holborn Studios Ltd challenged that permission on the basis that they (and others) should have been notified of the amendments.
The Court‘s view was that the requirement to re-consult on a change to an application 'depends on what fairness requires'. The Council had decided that the changes proposed were positive and would not cause "any significant adverse impact" such that there was no need to re-consult. However, the Court decided that that was the incorrect test.
Instead, the question the Council needed to consider was whether, without re-consultation, any of those who were entitled to be consulted would be deprived of the opportunity to make any representations that they may have wanted to make. Just because the Council welcomed the changes to the application and did not consider that they would have any adverse impact did not mean that others might not take a different view.
The judge decided that given the nature and extent of the changes to the application, the failure to re-consult deprived those who were entitled to be consulted of the opportunity to make representations. The permission was therefore quashed and now has to be re-considered by the Council once all those who are entitled to make representations have been given the opportunity to do so.
The Planning Team has a wealth of experience in dealing with High Court challenges to the grant of planning permission.
For more information, contact Mark on 01952 208412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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