Judicial Review: Judge finds Lambeth acted lawfully over decision to redevelop Cressingham Gardens estate

21 December 2016

Written by: Communications team

Better Lambeth - Council statements and updates - Focus on Brixton - Housing and planning

Following a judicial review hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, a judge has dismissed a challenge to Lambeth Council over its proposals to rebuild the Cressingham Gardens estate.

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Mr Justice Holgate rejected claims that the council had acted unlawfully when it made the decision to rebuild the estate, earlier this year. The judge said the council’s decisions to reject all of the refurbishment options were “legally unimpeachable”.

The Judge refused the claimant leave to appeal.

The Council will continue to work with residents to move this project forward with the next step being the appointment of a ‘Development management team’ in the New Year. This team will be responsible for working with residents to develop detailed plans for the new estate.

Decision to rebuild

Lambeth’s Cabinet approved a recommendation to rebuild the estate in March this year, as part of plans to provide more and better homes for the people of the borough.

The proposed redevelopment would see all the 306 properties on the estate replaced with a minimum of 464 new homes. Of the 158 extra homes, 47% would be affordable, including at least 27 extra family-sized homes at council rent. As with all of Lambeth’s estate regeneration projects there will be no loss of social housing.

The decision was made following extensive analysis and consultation with residents over a number of years.

Judicial Review

However, a resident on the estate won leave for a judicial review against the decision on a number of grounds, including the claim that the council had failed to carry out a fair consultation, failed to follow its own criteria relating to the financial viability of demolition, and breached his right to property.

But, following a hearing held over three days in November, Mr Justice Holgate has now ruled the council followed correct procedures when making the decision to rebuild the estate.

In a 60-page judgement released today, the judge rejected seven separate grounds put forward during the hearing, including the claim that the council had acted unlawfully by choosing an option which failed to meet its own mandatory financial principles, that cabinet members had been misled over an alternative proposal for redevelopment put forward by some residents, and that the consultation with residents did not provide enough information about its effect on the right to buy.

Word from the Cabinet

The judge’s decision means that the redevelopment scheme, which the council believes will bring much-needed improvements for residents on the estate, will continue. Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “I hope that this ruling ends the uncertainty that Cressingham residents have faced over the past six months since this legal challenge was launched.

“Despite a huge shortfall in our budget to improve every council home in Lambeth, we are still committed to providing all our tenants with a high-quality home, and rebuilding the estate is the best way to do this.

“Our proposals would replace all the 306 homes on Cressingham, with no loss of social housing, but will also build at least an extra 158 homes, 47% of them affordable, including more family-sized homes for council rent. That’s in excess of Lambeth’s planning policy and well above what private developers propose for what they’re building.

“This would bring huge benefits to Cressingham Gardens residents and to Lambeth as a whole.

“Architects will start working with residents in the New Year on the design for their new homes and a rebuilt Cressingham Gardens estate.”