62-home East London approval quashed over 'materially misleading' daylight report

A judge has quashed a planning approval for a 62-home development in east London after concluding that an officers' report considered by the council's planning committee was 'materially misleading' regarding the scheme's impact on sunlight and daylight.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

Local resident Melanie Rainbird had sought a judicial review of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets' planning permission for the scheme at Arnold Road, Bow.

The development would have seen an existing two-storey building on the site demolished and replaced with a development rising up to eight storeys.

According to the judgement decision document, Rainbird challenged the approval on three grounds. Firstly, she argued that a report examining the likely impact of the proposed development on daylight enjoyed by neighbouring properties had not been made available on the council’s website. Secondly, the planning committee had given "no weight to materials that residents had provided to members of that committee before their meeting", she said. Finally, members of the committee "were misled materially about the likely impact of the proposed development on the sunlight and daylight enjoyed by houses in the terrace", she claimed.

The judge dismissed the first two grounds, but upheld the third, quashing the planning permission.

Judge John Howell QC ruled that the committee had received "materially misleading" advice in a report from its planning officers. Had the advice been accurate, the council may have reached a different decision, he said.

The judge said that the council's planning committee had been misled to believe that no habitable rooms in the terrace would suffer a material deterioration in their sunlight if the development went ahead and that all rooms in the terrace would remain well-lit.

The committee was not told that there were 15 rooms in 11 properties that would suffer a significant adverse effect in terms of daylight, he said.

"The number of dwellings in Tomlins Grove and rooms within them which would suffer a material detriment in terms of sunlight and daylight as a result of the proposed development was not insignificant. The committee was misled into believing there would be no material deterioration in sunlight," the judgement said.

The misleading nature of the report was material to the decision in hand, the judge concluded, and he quashed the planning permission.

R on the Application of Rainbird v The Council of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Case Number: CO/2034/2017

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