My objection letter to Westminster City Council in respect of its exercise of land acquisition & disposal powers in respect of the Garden Bridge

 

5 January 2017

Dear Mr Davis and Mr Mitchell,

Re: Garden Bridge Trust

I write on behalf of my constituents, The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple together with numerous individual residents of the Temple, and barristers practising within the area, to express concern about your decisions taken under executive authority on 21 December 2016 in relation to the Garden Bridge proposal[1]. I have read and agree with the letter sent to you by my fellow ward councilman, Mr Edward Lord OBE, JP dated 3 January 2016.  Until yesterday I was unaware of the decision having been taken.   I suspect that many of my constituents will also be unaware of the decision.  It has not been the subject of wide publicity and it has been taken just before the City headed into the Christmas break, yet is one which has an obvious impact upon the residents and workers in my ward.

My constituents have raised legitimate questions about the need for such a structure in that location and its viability and financial sustainability. As Mr Lord points out, the City of London Corporation has declined to support the Garden Bridge Trust’s proposals both in its capacity as a local authority and as trustee of the Bridge House Estate, for similar reasons.

The use of these particularly the powers under s.227 Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) powers are particularly draconian involving a form of compulsory acquisition. It is something which requires a compelling case in the public interest.  It will also involve the expenditure of significant sums of money by way of compensation as well as other professional expert and legal fees.  Yet major issues still remain to be resolved over whether the proposed “Garden Bridge” represents a compelling case in the public interest as well as whether it is value for money. As you are aware the London Mayor has commissioned a review into the funding arrangements.[2]That review has yet to report.

Given the ongoing concern about the viability of the Garden Bridge and the absence of guaranteed financial support to bring the project to fruition, it is with the greatest of respect, both premature and imprudent for the City of Westminster to take the decisions which were put before you in such an expedited manner just before the Christmas break.

Finally, it appears to me that the December decisions are legally flawed. The decisions listed are for the “appropriation” and “disposal” of land rather than a decision for the “proposed appropriation or disposal” Significantly, the City of Westminster has by this decision decided to appropriate and disposal of the lands regardless of the outcome of the consultation process rather than being minded so to do subject to the outcome of consideration of any objections. However, as the report acknowledges, there must be advertisement, consultation and consideration of objections into the proposed appropriation/disposal.  Given that the City of Westminster has already resolved to appropriate and dispose of the various lands in question the consultation exercise is inherently flawed.  (See e.g. R (Moseley) v Haringey LBC [2014] 1 WLR 394).  I would respectfully ask that this letter also be regarded as an objection to the acquisition and disposal of the lands subject to the decision of 21 December, 2017. In addition, can you confirm whether the consultation exercises have set out the alternatives considered and rejected by the City of Westminster (R (Moseley) v Haringey LBC [2014] 1 WLR 394).

Accordingly, whilst I would join Mr Lord in inviting you to review your decisions and/or encourage their call-in by your colleagues so that they may be properly scrutinised, given its unlawfulness I request that the Council revokes the decision and start the matter afresh.

I would also ask to be updated upon what action you decide to take.

Yours sincerely,

 

Gregory Jones, QC, CC

c.c. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Jules Pipe CBE, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Greater London Authority

Val Shawcross CBE, Deputy Mayor for Transport, Greater London Authority

Cllr The Baroness Couttie, Leader, Westminster City Council

Cllr Nickie Aiken, Leader Designate, Westminster City Council

Cllr Adam Hug, Leader of the Opposition, Westminster City Council

Cllr Ian Adams, Chairman, Environment and Customer Services Policy & Scrutiny

Committee, Westminster City Council

Cllr Brian Connell, Chairman, Housing, Finance and Corporate Services Policy

and Scrutiny Committee, Westminster City Council

Charlie Parker, Chief Executive, Westminster City Council

Christopher Hayward CC, Chairman, Planning & Transportation Committee

City of London Corporation

John Barradell OBE, Town Clerk & Chief Executive, City of London Corporation

Guy Perricone, Under Treasurer & Chief Executive, Middle Temple

Patrick Maddams, Sub Treasurer, Inner Temple

[1]http://committees.westminster.gov.uk/documents/d646/Printed%20decision%20Garden%20Bridge%20Trust%20Associated%20Agreements.pdf?T=5

[2] https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/review-to-be-conducted-into-garden-bridge-project


2 thoughts on “My objection letter to Westminster City Council in respect of its exercise of land acquisition & disposal powers in respect of the Garden Bridge

  1. Tracey Banks Reply

    Great letter but – to dot an ‘i’ or cross a ‘t’ – it might need to be resent with a correction to the year of the December decision (in italics)? It says 2017!

    1. Gregory Jones Reply

      Dear Tracy

      You are quite right. My only excuse was that I only learnt of the matter at short notice and had to get the letter off as soon as possible. But you are right. Many thanks, Greg

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