Residents drop court challenge against planners

Golden Lane Estate residents mount battle banners against plans for a development on the Bernard Morgan House site.

The campaign against a controversial development of luxury flats opposite the Golden Lane Estate appears to be over after a local residents group withdrew their application for a judicial review of the City Corporation’s planning committee.

The Save Golden Lane Consortium was planning to challenge City planners over Taylor Wimpey’s 99-flat ‘Denizen’ development in the High Court on 1 March, claiming the proposal breached listed building guidelines and should never have been greenlit.

However the group withdrew their application at the 11th hour this week, after legal experts warned their case may not hold up in court.

City planners green-lit Taylor Wimpey’s redevelopment of former police section site Bernard Morgan House last May despite widespread opposition from residents who said it would plunge the Grade II-listed estate and neighbouring park into darkness.

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A model of The Denizen development proposed for the site of Bernard Morgan House.

The Save Golden Lane Consortium took the case to a judicial review of the planning process in January, arguing the independent sunlight survey was inaccurate and the panel had failed to take the listed building guidelines into account. They also took issue with Taylor Wimpey’s £4.5million affordable housing contribution, which is less than half the target set out in the Local Plan due to viability concerns.

High Court judge Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed the application for review, finding no fault with the planning process, but conceded the group’s claims had some merit.

Campaigners raised close to £15,000 towards mounting a second court challenge, but pulled the plug at the last minute after legal advisers warned their case might not be strong enough to warrant the risk of being liable for legal fees if they lost.

“We have very reluctantly accepted that advice and, to avoid further expense, reached an agreement with the City and Taylor Wimpey to discontinue our claim without any payment of costs,” a spokesperson for the Save Golden Lane Consortium said.

“We have got this far by generous public donations. Even if we were to convince a Court at this stage that our claims are at least arguable, the further public donations which would be needed to proceed to a full trial would be put at risk.”

The statement went on to say the group was “deeply unhappy” to be discontinuing the claim, but pointed to several wins during the campaign, including a review of the scheme’s financial viability, which could increase Taylor Wimpey’s affordable housing contribution by up to £6million.

“We will continue to campaign against those who promote and allow schemes like the Denizen which damage homes and families, which damage the natural and historic environment and which fail to provide the benefits which the public need and are entitled to,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said they did not wish to comment.