Court of Appeal overturns Shepherd's Bush market redevelopment CPO

The Court of Appeal has overturned former communities secretary Eric Pickles' decision to allow a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to progress work on the redevelopment of Shepherd's Bush Market in west London.

Shepherd's Bush: an artist's impression of the finished scheme
Shepherd's Bush: an artist's impression of the finished scheme

In March 2012, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham granted outline planning consent for a major redevelopment of the market which opened in 1914 and is home to 137 diverse retail pitches.

Plans for the redevelopment, by developers Orion Shepherd's Bush Limited, include 212 new homes.

Hammersmith and Fulham made a CPO to pave the way for the development in 2013.

But more than 200 objectors complained that they been asked to pay "exorbitant" rent on post-development pitches.

Following a public inquiry, a planning inspector agreed with the stallholders and refused to recommend approval of the CPO.

However, the former secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles then went ahead and approved the CPO.

In a decision later upheld by the High Court, he said that, after "carefully considering" the inspector's report, he had decided not to accept her recommendations.

But upholding a challenge launched by the market's tenants association, the Court of Appeal has now found that the secretary of state had given inadequate reasons for his decision.

Lord Justice Lewison, sitting with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, and Lord Justice Longmore, said it was not good enough for the secretary of state to simply state his disagreement with the inspector without giving a full explanation for doing so.

In his decision letter, he did not even mention some of the inspector's key concerns, including the affordability of the refurbishment from market traders' point of view, according to the judgement.

The judge said that, although the secretary of state may have had "perfectly good reasons" for disagreeing with the inspector, they did not emerge from his decision letter.

In a plea for plain English to be used in planning decisions, Lord Thomas said that they have to be couched in terms that ordinary citizens can understand.

Planning professionals, he said, had to guard against expressing themselves in terms that only lawyers or other experts could comprehend.

He concluded: "The livelihoods of the traders are put at risk by the proposed development.

"The inspector gave her reasons on a matter of vital concern to the traders in a way that could be readily understood by them.

"The secretary of state must explain his decision in the same readily understandable way".

Horada & Ors v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Ors. Case Number: C1/2015/2785

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