CIL Watch: Tower Hamlets claims minister 'wanted to help developer avoid levy charge' in permitting 1,500-home scheme

A London borough has accused the government of trying to help a developer avoid paying a community infrastructure levy in permitting plans for a 1,500-home scheme.

Tower Hamlets Council offices
Tower Hamlets Council offices

The claim has been made by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in an application for a judicial review of the secretary of state's consent for the Westferry Printworks scheme on the Isle of Dogs.

In February, housing secretary Robert Jenrick allowed the 1,524-home development, even though his own planning inspector had recommended refusal.

The council is now seeking leave to judicially review Jenrick’s decision on the grounds that it was biased and favoured the developer, Westferry Developments Ltd.

The authority is arguing that the process the secretary of state followed in determining the recovered appeal was influenced by a desire to help the developer to avoid a financial liability, notably the council’s revised Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges.

The Westferry Printworks decision was made one day before the council adopted its new CIL schedule, which introduced charges on the Westferry Printworks site, whereas the previous schedule did not.

The council has asked the court to order the disclosure of documents that it believes will show this was part of his consideration.

In response to the claims by Tower Hamlets, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it had no comment further to the reasons set out by Jenrick in his decision letter.

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