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Judge quashes decision to designate Bromley town centre as housing zone

A High Court judge has quashed a decision by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to designate Bromley Town Centre as a housing zone.

In Relta Ltd v Greater London Authority [2017] EWHC 671 (Admin) the claimant, a developer, argued that the Mayor had misinterpreted his policy on the designation of housing zones in his approach to whether such designation would deliver a minimum of 1000 houses.

The decision on designation in March 2016 would have brought £27.1m in allocated GLA funding.

Quashing the decision, Mr Justice Collins agreed with the claimant’s counsel (Andrew Parkinson of Landmark Chambers) that 620 units on certain sites did not need GLA intervention and should not be counted towards the 1000 required to qualify for housing zone designation.

He decided also that “preparatory work done in order to achieve the designation cannot meet the minimum 1000 home requirement unless it can be shown that any permissions granted on developments expected will need the designation either to unlock or to accelerate them”.

The judge said: “The language of the Prospectus is in my view clear. The advantages of the HZ designation…..are certainly of importance and will clearly be a relevant consideration. Paragraph 66 of the Prospectus requires in b. evidence that the proposed interventions will ‘unlock or accelerate the quantum of housing outputs proposed’.

“Those outputs are set out in the details, namely the total of 1510. Condition c., which refers to the 1000 minimum, must in context mean that it has to be shown that at least 1000 of those outputs will be unlocked or accelerated by the designation. It is clear that only sites A and G needed the interventions or the GLA funding.”

Mr Justice Collins continued: “I am afraid I cannot accept the arguments based on [a senior area manager at the GLA]'s evidence that it is sufficient to show that there would be advantages when the designation was granted. The need for it to be shown that there are developments for a minimum of 1000 units which require designation to unlock or accelerate them is clear. This is understandable since no doubt there would have been a number of competing applications and the amounts of money payable by the GLA are significant.

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