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Legal challenge to StQW Plan defeated in the High Court

A long-running legal challenge to the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Plan was dismissed by Mr Justice Dove, in the High Court on 12th January 2018.

Owners of a backland open space in the neighbourhood area had sought judicial review of the decision of Kensington and Chelsea Council to progress the draft neighbourhood plan to its referendum.   The referendum was held in February 2016, and the plan was supported by 92% of those voting, with a 23% turnout.  The Council has since been applying the policies in the plan.

The Legard family of North Yorkshire, as owners of one of three sites designated in the plan as Local Green Space, joined with developers Metropolis Property Ltd mounting the legal challenge.  A  planning application to build 21 townhouses on the land had been previously been deemed premature by the Council, pending publication of the neighbourhood plan.

The local authority defended its decisions, with the neighbourhood forum involved as an interested party.  After 5 days of hearings in the High Court, all three grounds of the claim were dismissed.

Previous posts give more background to this legal action.  Our view is that the landowners at Nursery Lane (the Legard family) could have avoided the whole scenario has they responded to the initial letters which we sent to them at the end of 2013, asking to discuss the future of this former nursery garden site.

Instead they chose to partner with Metropolis Property Ltd and to work up detailed proposals for a development of 20 townhouses, without so much as a single conversation with the StQW Forum.

Subsequent decisions by both parties to ignore the recommendation of the independent examiner of the StQW Draft Plan, and the referendum result on the plan, meant that substantial legal costs were incurred – on all sides.   The Council bore the brunt of costs of defending the action, and it is not yet clear whether more than a small element of their expenditure will be met by the claimants.

The Forum is very grateful to those members and local residents who contributed to fund which allowed us to retain Stephanie Hall from leading planning chambers Francis Taylor Buildings, to represent us at the High Court.   The case ran for five days rather than the expected two, and Stephanie kept her fees to the modest level which we could afford, working as a Direct Access Barrister.   This saves significant costs on use of a solicitor.

The Kensington Society also made two match funding contributions to our legal costs, at important moments.

The judgment is very detailed and cane be downloaded here  We hope that it will give encouragement to other neighbourhood forums and parish councils preparing neighbouring plans, who find their proposals challenged by landowners or developers.



The legal case took an unusual turn, with the claimants arguing that the level and content of correspondence between the StQW forum, the council, and the independent examiner rendered the process ‘apparently biased’ and unfair.  The judgment analysed in detail the factual background to these allegations, and dismissed the three grounds of the claim.

The judge concluded that the forum had been ‘persistent’ on many issues, including some            disagreements with the Council’s planning officers.  We did indeed have to send many letters and emails to the Council, and previous posts on this website record why this became necessary.

As all those working on neighbourhood plans will know, it takes persistence to see these plans through to the finishing line.

TfL consultation on new Overground stations at Old Oak

Transport for London (TfL) are holding a public consultation on proposals for two new Overground stations at Old Oak.  The consultation is a short one, lasting from 16th October to 17th November 2017.

The details are at this link

The locations of these proposed new stations were consulted on back in 2014, in the early days of plans for Old Oak.  The stations are intended to provide an interchange for passengers between the HS2/Queen Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) station at Old Oak Common and the London Overground network.

This interchange will be less than ideal, as neither Overground station will be adjacent to the main station (the Hythe Road station will involve a 700m walk between the two).  The business case for each station is still being developed and there is as yet no certainty on sources of funding.

The preferred option for a Hythe Road station involves a new station and railway viaduct to the north of the existing embankment. The existing embankment would be removed, opening up access between the north and southern parts of Cargiant’s 43 acres – destined to become ‘Old Oak Park’ with 6,500 new homes.

The StQW Forum will be submitting a response to the consultation.  We will be arguing that it makes more sense to create a new station at ‘Westway Circus’, the location beneath the Westway roundabout at the southern end of Latimer Road.  This proposals is advocated in the StQW Neighbourhood Plan, the RBKC Local Plan, and by the West London Line Group.

Such a station would serve the expanding Imperial College campus and the new developments under construction by St James and by Stanhope (on the BBC TV Centre site).  It would also improve public transport access for North Kensington and the StQW area, and relieve some of the traffic pressure on Wood Lane/Scrubs Lane.

A new station at Hythe Road could await the time when ‘Old Oak Park’ is built out on the Cargiant site.  Depending on the future of the London housing market post Brexit, there can be no certainty as to when Old Oak Park (and the residential towers granted approval along Scrubs Lane) will be both built and occupuied.  Until that time, an Overground station at Hythe Road would serve a limited catchment area.

The proposed Hythe Road station involves building a viaduct and new track across the Cargiant site.  Project costs are estimated at £198m at 2023 prices.  By contrast, a much simpler new station was added to the West London Line at Imperial Wharf a decade ago, at a cost of under £10m.   Hence the cost/benefits of a station at Westway Circus would seem far greater than at Hythe Road.

Ultimately, both could be provided and would be no closer together than halts on the East London Line, which has seen several new stations added at Shoreditch High Street, Hoxton, Haggerston and Dalston Junction.

If you wish to contribute views to the StQW consultation response, please email to by November 10th 2017.

Cycle ‘Quietway’ proposals from RBKC

The Council has been consulting recently on the route of a proposed TfL/RBKC ‘Quietway’ route through the StQW neighbourhood.  ‘Quietway’s form part of the Mayor of London’s Cycling Grid.   The intended users are not cycling commuters but those who wish ‘to use clear, direct routes along quiet side streets’ .  They are different from the cycling superhighways, which are two-way largely segregated routes designed to bring people in and out of central London.

At the StQW/SHRA open meeting on June 9th, RBKC transport officers gave a presentation on the North Kensington section of a proposed new Quietway.  A map of the overall route is shown below.Quietway

Discussion at the meeting centred on the proposed junction where the Quietway crosses North Pole Road.  Local residents were very doubtful about the viability of the proposed junction layout, using two ‘Tiger’ crossings which are acknowledged as being experimental.

The major traffic problems in North Pole Road make it unsuitable as part of a Quietway route, in the view of local people.  There is congestion (and resultant poor driving practices) almost every day at mid and late afternoon.  Sightlines for cyclists are poor, because of parked vans and other vehicles.  Parking enforcement is weak.

The StQW Forum has written to the Council asking that two alternative routes are considered, one using Eynhaam Road and one using Highlever Road.  A copy of our letter can be found at this link StQW to RBKC re Cycle Quietway.V3 final [1225250]

The Council has assured us that these options will also be examined, before any decision is made.  The consultation on the RBKC website, with maps of each junction is at   It closed on June 25th 2016.

Old Oak ‘interim forum’ is underway

A first meeting of the ‘interim’ Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum was held on May 25th, at the Woodward Hall, in North Acton.   This new body is made up of residents and businesses interested in preparing a neighbourhood plan for the Old Oak part of the OPDC area.

The meeting was chaired by Mark Walker (chair of The Island Site Residents Association (TITRA).  Henry Peterson (chair of the StQW Neighbourhood Forum) explained that it had been agreed with the OPDC that a formal application for designation of an Old Oak neighbourhood area and forum would await the outcome of the London Mayoral elections on May 5th.

While Sadiq Khan is now Mayor of London and has been appointing a new team of Deputy Mayors, it was not clear (as of May 25th) who would become the new chair of the OPDC Board.

The meeting reviewed and discussed the proposed boundary for an Old Oak neighbourhood area, and agreed a number of changes.  The map below reflects this latest thinking (the yellow line shows the proposed NP boundary, and the purple line the OPDC boundary).

Old Oak proposed NP boundary June 2016


The proposed boundary may well change as a result of the 6 week public consultation that will be undertaken by the OPDC and LB Hammersmith & Fulham, once a final designation application is submitted.  Residents and businesses in areas not currently included will have the opportunity to ask that their streets are added into the neighbourhood area.

This applies (for example) to the Eynham Road area, to the east of Wood Lane.  This is not currently included because this is already a designated neighbourhood area as a result of LBHF decisions made in 2013.  The Council would need to vary its previous decisions for these streets to become part of an Old Oak neighbourhood, since an area cannot lie within two designated neighbourhoods.

The latest draft of the designation application for an Old Oak neighbourhood area and neighbourhood forum can be downloaded here

Old Oak designation application.Final draft May 2016

If you are interested in joining the Old Oak interim neighbourhood forum, and live or work within the orange boundary in the map above, please email to or ring 0207 460 1743 for more information.

A neighbourhood plan for Old Oak?

A group of residents associations on the borders of Wormwood Scrubs/Old Oak Common have been working together in recent months on proposals to prepare a neighbourhood plan for Old Oak.  The suggested boundary of the neighbourhood area is shown in the map below (the yellow line).OPDC area map V10 March 3rd 2016

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation has been the planning authority for this area, since April 2015.  The Corporation has consulted in recent months on the first draft of a Local Plan for the area.

Rather than simply responding to this and other consultations, local residents see a neighbourhood plan as a good way of identifying shared concerns over what is being planned for Old Oak, for feeding in local knowledge, and for influencing the final outcome of the OPDC Local Plan.  The idea would be for preparation of a neighbourhood plan to run alongside the next stages of the OPDC Local Plan.

The draft of a designation  application for a neighbourhood forum and neighbourhood area has been put together.  This will need to be approved by the OPDC Board and by LB Hammersmith & Fulham, for the neighbourhood plan to go ahead.

Old Oak designation application.Draft V9 April 3rd

The application will be submitted shortly after the London Mayoral election on May 5th.  The OPDC and LBHF will then organise a 6 week public consultation, seeking views on the suggested boundary for the neighbourhood area, and on establishing an Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum.

The ‘interim forum’ put together a collective response to the OPDC consultation on its Draft Local Plan, and this can be seen at the link below and on the website of the Grand Union Alliance.


A second version of the OPDC Local Plan will appear later this year.  Whether its policy proposals on density and building height are any different remains to be seen.  The arrival of a new Mayor of London could bring about change, as could a majority for Brexit and the resultant impact on the London property market.

Email the StQW Forum at if you would be interested to know more about the proposals for the Forum, or what is happening at Old Oak.

A very good result

The level of turnout at last Thursday’s referendum is a testament to the fact that local residents care deeply about our neighbourhood.

We had been hoping that most of the 370 members of the neighbourhood forum (same membership as St Helens Residents Association) would take the trouble to vote.   But going along to a polling station, or completing a postal vote or proxy vote form, takes time and effort and has to be fitted into busy lives.   The turnout of 700 plus (including all postal votes) came as surprise.

To put a 23% turnout in context, this is not much below what happens in a local election in several wards in the Borough (in St Helens and Dalgarno wards we are more active voters, with a turnout of 34% in each ward in the 2014 local elections).

In one of the very few neighbourhood plan refererendums held to date in London (West Hampstead and Fortune Green) the turnout was a lower 14%.  This is the sort of level we were expecting.  Neighbourhood plans are unfamiliar to most people in London, although now much more common in rural and parished areas across England.

So it was very welcome to see people streaming into St Helens Church to cast their vote, having heard about the referendum from their neighbours, our flyers, or from information left with Shelley the chemist, the butchers at North Pole Road, St Helens Cafe and other venues.   Getting this neighbourhood plan in place has been a real joint effort across our London ‘village’.

One lady voter who came with her carer told me that she had lived here all her life and remembered being at the opening of the Princess Louise Hospital, by Queen Mary.  As noted in the short historical section of the StQW Plan, this event was in 1928, nearly ninety years ago.

A main aim of the StQW Plan has been to keep this pocket of London multi-generational as well as ‘neighbourly’.   More ways need to be found to enable older and younger people to stay in the area – far from easy in a housing market which increasingly excludes all but the very wealthy.  We hope that the policies and site allocations in the StQW Plan will help to achieve this aim in the coming years.

And thanks again to all who voted.

Henry Peterson, Chair StQW Neighbourhood Forum


Legal challenge to StQW Plan

An application has been filed for judicial review of the decision by Kensington and Chelsea Council to advance the StQW Draft Plan to a local referendum on February 25th 2016.

This is not wholly unexpected.  It was clear that some parties were going to be very unhappy about the decision of the independent examiner of the StQW Plan, that the remaining three St Quintin ‘backlands’ meet the national criteria to be designated as ‘Local Green Space’.

The judicial review application has been filed by William Legard, as one of the members of the Legard family registered as owners of the land at Nursery Lane.  It is not yet clear whether Metropolis Property Ltd, the developer who submitted a planning application last May to build 21 townhouses on this green space, will take an active part in the legal case.

The Legard family was informed in December 2013 that a neighbourhood plan for the area including their land was being prepared.   They did not respond to the query from the Forum as to their intentions for their land at Nursery Lane, but instead arranged for the site to be marketed by Knight Frank as a residential development opportunity.  

No attempt was made by the Legards, Knight Frank, or their planning consultants to discuss plans for the land with the StQW Forum.  We made very clear from the start that this site, and the two other remaining St Quintin backlands, were likely to be designated in the neighbourhood plan as Local Green Space, and were not suitable for housing development.

Such a view was hardly radical or extreme.  It followed the policy adopted by the Council in the 1990 Oxford Gardens Conservation Area Policy Statement, that these three pieces of land should not be developed for housing.

The Legards and developers Metropolis Property Ltd thought that they knew better. Detailed plans were drawn up for a housing development and exhibited locally in December 2014.  Local opposition was vociferous.  A petition to Save our Green Spaces gathered over 2,500 signatures.  At a debate at the full Council meeting in April 15th 2015, the Council committed to leaving the decision on the future of the land at Nursery Lane to the independent ‘examiner’ of the StQW Draft Plan.

At a public hearing on 22nd September, held by examiner John Parmiter FRICS MRTPi the landowners and developers had the chance to set out their case for a housing development at Nursery Lane.  The StQW Forum responded, pointing to the fact that this piece of land had never been developed, and had been rated as an agricultural hereditament during its 50 years of use by Clifton Nurseries.   The idea of it being a ‘residential development’ site was the creation of the owners and Knight Frank, seeking to exploit the enormously high values for residential land in this borough.

The independent examiner concluded that all three of the St Quintin backlands meet the tough criteria set in the National Planning Policy Framework for designation as Local Green Space.  The Council subsequently endorsed this decision, and confirmed that the StQW Draft Plan meets all the necessary legal requirements to be voted on at a local referendum.  If supported by a simple majority vote, the Draft Plan will be adopted by the Council and used when future planning decisions are made.  Local Green Space designation will give strong planning protection to all three of the remaining St Quintin backlands.

It is understandable why the Legard family are not happy at this outcome.  A lot of money must have been spent on working up a detailed planning application.  It is not clear whether the Legards or Metropolis will lose out on this.  More money is now being thrown at a legal challenge.  But the StQW Forum does not have a lot of sympathy for either landowner or developer:

  • the Legards made a previous attempt to build housing on this site. This was rejected at a planning appeal in 1982
  • this piece of land was inherited by the Legards, by marriage, from the St Quintin family who laid out this part of London in the late 19th and early 20th century. The family did not have to pay for it.
  • It was agricultural land when the streets of the St Quintin Estate were built, when the Legards inherited it, and remains so in 2016.  It is a ‘greenfield’ site in planning terms, and will remain so as Local Green Space.
  • After all these decades, the family could easily have awaited the outcome of the StQW Neighbourhood Plan, and known the up to date planning status of the land, before attempting to sell it.
  • instead, they tried to make a quick sale and see a planning application pushed through the system in order to realise a very large capital gain.

It is for the Council to defend the judicial review application and to demonstrate that its decisions on the StQW Draft Plan have been fully considered and properly made. The StQW Forum is an ‘interested party’ in the case and has retained a planning barrister to represent the forum in Court.

We hope that all our members, and other residents in the neighbourhood, will ensure a good turnout for the referendum on Thursday 25th.  Voting is at St Helens Church from 7am to 10pm.

Neighbourhood plans are all about allowing local people to decide what development should happen where in their area, on the basis of sound evidence and extensive consultation.  This is what has been achieved within the StQW Draft Plan.  It is not for a single landowner to impose their own preferred financial outcome on a collective and well-reasoned community view.



Success for the proposals in the StQW Draft Plan

Neighbourhood plans are being put together by parish councils and neighbourhood forums in many parts of the country (over 1,500 now, with 100 that have reached the stage of independent examination).   Yet there remain very few plans in London that are close to the finishing line.

This may be because planning in London is more complicated.  Or developers more powerful.  Or local authority planning departments more resistant to the idea of ‘amateur planners’.  The pattern across different boroughs varies significantly, giving some support to this last possibility.   But a major reason may be because local resident and community groups feel that a neighbourhood plan cannot make any real difference.

We hope that the experience of the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum shows that a real difference can be made.  Several proposed policies in our neighbourhood plan were opposed by the Council at the start.  Some policies continued to be ‘strongly opposed’ by the Council right up to the stage of independent examination.

But we have stuck to the principle, as set out by the Government and stated in the National Planning Policy Framework, that Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community. 

The Examination of the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Plan has confirmed this principle.  It supports policy proposals on which the Council argued a lack of ‘general conformity’, but where the level of detail in the relevant Council policy could not be justified as ‘strategic’.  The ‘general’ in general conformity means what it says, as the High Court decided in the Tattenhall case.  Neighbourhood planners should be encouraged by this outcome.

The Examination has also tested the national criteria for designation of Local Green Space, in a situation where a landowner and developer (on being notified that a neighbourhood plan was in preparation) then attempted to beat the Draft Plan to the finishing post via submitting a full-scale planning application for a housing development on an undeveloped backland site.

Detailed research on the planning history of a site, coupled with very strong evidence of local interest and support, can indeed prove a ‘powerful tool’ which developers cannot simply brush aside.  The Local Green Space designation has been supported by the Examiner in this case.

Similar situations have arisen in many rural areas and around villages and market towns.  We are not aware of this scenario arising before in a London context.

Neighbourhood plans involve a lot of work and the processes involved can be slow or strung out by reluctant planning authorities.  The Government is taking steps to speed up and streamline the process, in the new Housing and Planning Bill.  Meanwhile the StQW Neighbourhood Forum will be preparing for the next stage, of a local referendum that will seal the outcome for which local residents and businesses have worked long and hard.

Date of examination hearing nears – final discussions with RBKC

In the final weeks before the public hearing on September 22nd, which forms a critical part of the current ‘examination’ of the StQW Neighbourhood Plan, final exchanges with the Council are continuing.

On the positive side, the Council’s Planning Department has confirmed that its officer representative at the hearing will not be making any further submissions on the policies proposed in the Draft Plan for the land at Nursery Lane.  The Council has adopted a neutral position leaving these proposals to be decided by  the Examiner, John Parmiter.

The Legard family as the owners pf the land at Nursery Lane, and the prospective developers Metropolis Property Ltd, have both been granted the opportunity to be at the hearing as ‘participants’.  Both will be sending their planning consultants to the session, to argue against the StQW proposals to protect this green space.

Consultants Rolfe Judd Planning, acting for Metropolis Property, have retained Nigel McGurk as their representative.   Nigel McGurk has previously acted as ‘examiner’ for many neighbourhood plans across England and gave evidence at one of the early High Court cases on neighbourhood plans (that for Tattenhall, in rural Cheshire).  He has a lot of expertise on neighbourhood plans.  It seems evident that Metropolis Property are willing to continue to invest heavily in using consultants to try to secure a planning permission for their proposed housing development at Nursery Lane.

On the StQW draft policies for Latimer Road, the Council has said that it will continue to object to all parts of this section of the Draft Plan.   Further attempts at dialogue with the Council have got nowhere.   In response to a FoI request in early August, the Council has released to the Forum a set of documents which make clear that:

  • As part of the ‘Partial Review of the RBKC 2010 Core Strategy, the Council’s own policies are likely to move towards more mixed use in the Borough’s Employment Zones, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework.  (In other words the Council is itself moving in the same direction as the proposals in the StQW Plan – so why does it continue to oppose these?)
  • Despite this convergence of views, the Planning Department remains vehemently opposed to any part of this shift of policy being progressed through a neighbourhood plan.  We are told that we should continue to wait for the Council to adjust its policies to its own timetable – a process which has been extremely slow since the Council first consulted on how to update the ‘enterprise’ section of its 2010 Core Strategy, back in 2013.

The StQW Forum will be arguing at the examination hearing that local residents and businesses should not have to keep waiting.  The whole point of neighbourhood planning is to give local people ‘powerful tools’ to shape planning policies for their neighbourhood and to ensure that these are responsive and up to date.  The relevant legislation and Government guidance is designed to achieve this outcome.   So the discussion on the 22nd is likely to prove lively.

Draft Neighbourhood Plan Policy Amendment

On one small matter, the Forum has reached agreement with the Council.  We have agreed revised wording for draft policy 2d in the Neighbourhood Plan as follows:

2d) to resist the introduction of non-permeable surfaces to front garden areas (above size limits within Permitted Development rights) other than for the replacement of existing main paths or where approved hard standing for parking and crossovers is already in place.

This change has been agreed to reflect the fact that it is fairly straightforward for building owners to find and use permeable surfaces when replacing or renewing concrete hardstanding in front gardens.

The Forum supports the principle that front gardens should not be paved over or made impermeable (above the area allowed under Permitted Development Rights, and for the very attractive tiled paths which are a feature of the Conservation Area).

The cumulative effect of impermeable surfaces increases the risk of flash flooding of the Counters Creek main sewer system, under increasing strain from the scale and number of new developments in White City East.

A reminder that the public hearing on the StQW Draft Plan will start at 10.00 on Tuesday 22nd September, in the rear part of St Helens Church.  A copy of the agenda, including the questions that the Examiner will be asking, can be downloaded from a link on the home page of this website.

Public hearing on the StQW Draft Plan 22nd September 2015

The St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Plan has reached the stage of ‘independent examination’.  This follows the 6 week ‘publicity period’ during which Kensington and Chelsea Council published the Draft Plan on its website and invited further comments.  This consultation ended on July 16th 2105.

The Draft Plan and supporting documents, along with responses to the final consultation exercise, can be found on the RBKC website at  PDFs of these documents can also be downloaded from the front page of

The Draft Plan is currently being reviewed by independent examiner John Parmiter FRICS MRTPI.   His role is to ensure that the Plan, with any modifications that he considers necessary, meets the ‘basic conditions’ for a neighbourhood plan as set down in the 2011 Localism Act.

His examination will include a public hearing, to be held on Tuesday 22nd September 2015 and starting at 10.00 hours.  The venue is St Helens Church (rear part of the church itself), St Helens Gardens W10 6LP.

The purpose of the session will be for John Parmiter to ask questions of interested parties (the Council, the StQW Forum, and a selection of participants invited by the Examiner).  While held in public, there will not be an opportunity for general discussion of the Draft Plan or its individual policy proposals.

John Parmiter has prepared an agenda for the public hearing which can be downloaded from this link St Quintin NDP  This gives approximate timings when specific issues will be explored with participants at the session.

Subject to the agreement of the Examiner, the StQW Draft Plan will then be voted on at a local referendum.  If supported by a majority, the neighbourhood plan will be adopted by the Council and its policies used in deciding on planning applications in the StQW neighbourhood area.