Tuesday 2 February 2016

Dalston resident wins right to fight for kids sunlight

Dalston resident, Judith Watt, has been granted permission to judicially review a decision by Hackney's Planning Committee. She is challenging a development of private flats which will severely overshadow Colvestone School Nursery's outdoor classroom.

A 9.5 metre high block will extend right across the southern boundary of the school's outdoor classroom , blocking out sunlight and obscuring views from Ridley Road market of the Grade II Listed school building

Councillor Stops,  Chair of  Hackney's Planning Committee, used his casting vote on 2nd September to ensure that the development was approved. He did the same to approve the demolition of Dalston Lane's Georgian terrace. Usually a casting vote is used to preserve the status quo until there is a majority for change - but not in Hackney.

Hackney's Mayor, Jules Pipe, has written to Judith to share his concern about the development but said that he was powerless to interfere with independent planning decisions. When it originally sold the development site in 2002 Hackney had sought to retain the "right to uninterrupted light" to the school, Hackney is still investigating whether it can enforce the sale restriction.

 Judges can only overrule a bad decision if a procedural error can be proved. In other words, Councils' are entitled to foul it up, provided they do so properly. Judith applied for permission to judicially review the decision at a Court hearing on 28 January and was successful. Judge Cranston found that her claims are arguable - that Hackney had misapplied sun lighting guidelines, failed to give weight to an earlier relevant planning refusal and had failed to consider national, London Plan and local policies designed to protect the health, education and well being of children. In due course there will be a one-day trial of her claims.

The developers, Chan and Eyres, whose planning permission is being challenged described their designs as "sensitive to the amenity of surrounding buildings" and to "maximise natural light into habitable rooms". Their website, before recent amendment, stated "We believe that simple things like the natural light that fills a space and awakens your spirits...enriches life in a way that is priceless"
But if Judith loses her judicial review and the development proceeds, the nursery school childrens' open space will lose most of its sunlight and be plunged into shadow.