DD2398 Citroen Site planning appeal – legal/consultant costs

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Code: 
DD2398
Date signed: 
24 September 2019
Decision by: 
Debbie Jackson, Interim Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment

Executive summary

On 16 February 2018, London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) resolved to refuse planning permission for the planning application made to redevelop the Citroen Car Garage site in Hounslow, under delegated authority and on 26 February 2018 the Mayor directed LBH that he would act as the Local Planning Authority as the proposed development would have a significant impact on the implementation of the London Plan and there were sound planning reasons to intervene. On 22 August 2018 the Mayor resolved to grant planning permission in line with the recommendation of GLA officers, subject to conditions and the conclusion of a S106 agreement.

Following the Mayor’s resolution, the Secretary of State called in the application for his determination on 15 April 2019 and the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has subsequently confirmed the date for the Public Inquiry. Leading Counsel advice and specialist consultant input is required to support GLA and TfL staff in presenting the Mayor’s planning case at the forthcoming public inquiry.

This Director Decision asks that the Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment approves expenditure of up to £150,000 to allow the GLA to present the Mayor’s planning case at a forthcoming public inquiry in January 2020. The costs will be spent in the 2019-20 financial year.

Decision

That the Executive Director of Development, Environment and Enterprise approves:

Expenditure of up to £150,000 from the 19/20 budget on legal representation and consultant input to support GLA officers in expanding on and presenting the Mayor’s planning case at the forthcoming public inquiry.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) formally consulted the Mayor on 7 November 2017 in relation to a planning application for “Redevelopment of the Citroen Car Garage site to provide a mixed-use scheme of 427 residential units with ancillary facilities, flexible retail, employment and community uses and a children’s nursery in buildings of 12, 13, 16, 15 and 18 storeys in height.” (the Application) and the Mayor considered a report on the Application on 15 January 2018.

The Stage 1 report concluded that the quantum of affordable housing (which was then proposed to be 40% supplemented by grant funding of the scheme) needed to be verified as the maximum reasonable amount through viability work. The design and the positioning of tall buildings on the site was supported in line with strategic policy subject to concerns regarding the amount of active frontage being addressed. The less than substantial harm to the setting of heritage assets was considered to be outweighed by the public benefits of the scheme. The development was in accordance with London Plan energy, air quality and transport policies, subject to further detail, conditions and S106 obligations.

On 16 February 2018, LBH officers acting under delegated authority resolved to refuse planning permission for the Application. On 26 February 2018 the Mayor directed LBH that he would act as the Local Planning Authority for the purposes of determining the application. In making his Direction, the Mayor noted the potential contribution of the scheme to the delivery of housing and affordable housing.

Following the Mayor’s Direction, amendments were made to the Application increasing the number of residential units from 427 to 441, an increase in the amount of affordable housing from 40% to 50%, a commensurate uplift in wheelchair accessible units and playspace, an increase in height of block B by two stories, an increase in family sized units, a reduction in car parking by 6 spaces and an increase in cycle parking by 196 spaces.

On 11 July 2018, the Mayor undertook an accompanied site visit with GLA and TfL officers, representatives from LBH, Historic England and the Applicant team.

On 20 July 2018, a public Representation Hearing was held at City Hall for the Mayor to consider the Application as amended and hear from third parties opposed and in favour of the scheme, as well as from LBH.

Following the hearing, on 22 August 2018, the Mayor undertook a second accompanied site visit to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew with GLA and TfL officers, representatives from the Council, Historic England, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Applicant to assess the visual impact of the scheme on the World Heritage Site.

Following the site visit on 22 August 2018, the Mayor resolved to grant planning permission in line with the recommendation of GLA officers, subject to conditions and the conclusion of a S106 agreement.

On 20 November 2018 a Holding Direction was issued by the Secretary of State, preventing the Mayor from granting planning permission. The Secretary of State called in the Application for his determination on 15 April 2019. Following the ‘call in’ letters were received from the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) confirming the start date and the date for the Public Inquiry.

The Mayor is a principal party to the appeal which requires him to prepare and present detailed technical information and opinions; most notably in respect of heritage impacts, urban design, transport benefits and affordable housing/financial viability. Legal representation by Leading Counsel will be required at the public inquiry, as well as specialist consultant input.

A bespoke timetable for the public inquiry has been set by the Planning Inspectorate as follows:

- 15 October 2019: Submit Statement of Common Ground to Planning Inspectorate.
- 9 December 2019: Submit Proofs of Evidence to Planning Inspectorate.
- 14 January 2020: Public inquiry opens and sits for 12 days.

Legal fees are estimated to be up to £129,000 based on the following breakdown:

- Brief fee: £65,000;
- Daily Refresher of £4,000 per day for 11 days: £44,000; and
- Contingency (including conferences, preparation, drafting/amending of documents): £20,000.

Professional specialist consultant fees are estimated to be up to £20,000 based on the expected requirements to put forward the Mayor’s case.

Procurement will be carried out in accordance with the Contracts and Funding Code.

It is therefore requested that the Executive Director approves a budget and authorises expenditure up to this figure. This figure is based on fee quotes from a barrister chambers and further quotes will be obtained from professional consultancies. These figures are estimates and may increase depending on the complexities of the case and evidence of other parties that may need to be responded to, which would require further budget approval.

Objectives and expected outcomes

To enable preparation for, and presentation of a robust Mayoral case at, the forthcoming Public Inquiry in January 2020.

Equality comments

Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, in making these decisions “due regard” must be had to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not. Protected characteristics include age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation (and marriage or civil partnership status for the purpose of the duty to eliminate unlawful discrimination only). This duty has been taken into account, but no additional equality impact assessments are required beyond those considered in the relevant planning documentation for the Mayor to make these decisions.

In addition to the above the procurement process will set out that any potential contractors must comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Other considerations

Risk Management

If the Mayor’s decision is not robustly presented there is a very real risk that the London Plan would be undermined and London’s strategic planning interests would not be properly taken into account by the Secretary of State when he considers the case, thereby impacting the Mayor’s ability to carry out his statutory duties. The Mayor could also incur very significant costs (in the event of a successful application for costs award by the appellant) should he be found to have acted unreasonably or unlawfully.

Financial comments

Approval is sought for expenditure of up to £150,000 on legal and consultancy services to support GLA officers in expanding on and presenting the Mayor’s planning case at the forthcoming public inquiry.

The expenditure will be funded from the Planning Smoothing Reserves.

Activity table

Activity

Timeline

Procurement of suitable specialists (legal and heritage)

September – October 2019

Preparation of case and evidence

October - December 2019

Public inquiry

January 2020


Share this page