Final Blow For Oaks Campaigners
High Court rules there are no grounds for Judicial Review
A hard fought campaign by residents hoping to overturn the controversial Oaks planning development has finally ended in defeat at the High Court.
The Oaks Action Group wanted a Judicial Review after claiming Ealing Council 'hand-picked' the committee to guarantee approval.
They claimed Cllr. Abdullah Gulaid, Acton Central, was replaced by a councillor more favourable to the scheme after telling Labour's chief whip of his doubts about plans for 142 homes a multi-storey car park and new retail space in the town centre.
However, Mr. Justice Philip Sales ruled the majority Labour group was entitled to alter the committee as it saw fit before agendas were issued, and that Council 'departures' from rules governing substitutions were not significant.
Barrister for the residents, Richard Turney, had argued that the remarks of the replacement committee member, Cllr Swarn Kang from Southall Green, could not be taken as open-minded. However, Mr Justice Sales disagreed and ruled that Cllr Kang showed no bias.
Spokesman for The Oaks campaigners, Doug Carnegie, said the judgement had worrying consequences nationwide for local democracy .
"It gives a green light to tampering with planning committees. The Council never denied Cllr Gulaid was removed for questioning the plan. Ealing's own Conservation Officer described it as 'oppressive and overbearing, poor, incoherent, inarticulate, inefficient, detrimental to local character, and leaving the Churchfield Road area with an awkward future.
''Surprise, surprise - this vital report was kept from the Planning Committee."
Another local activist Maire Lowe said: 'The good news is developers and planners in Acton are now on notice that residents will go through their schemes with a fine tooth comb. Treating the people who live here like children - that's finished.'
The controversial Oaks plan has been approved despite much opposition and many appeals. Neither the Mayor or Department for Communities and Local Government called the application in - work is now expected to start on the site later this year.
Ealing Council and Acton Regeneration Company say they can't comment about the decision until they receive the formal judgement - expected later this month.
9th April 2015