Our Council's plans to build seven floors of flats on top of Shepherd's Bush market have been thrown into chaos after the traders have won permission from the High Court to initiate proceedings for a judicial review of the way in H&F Council has gone about the process. The legal challenge is based on a claim that our Council have failed to follow proper procedure.
In September 2010, Hammersmith & Fulham Council published a Supplementary Planning Document which indicated that the shops on Goldhawk Road were to be demolished. As part of the controversial plans, the Council has teamed up with property developers, Orion Shepherds Bush Limited, who intend to build over 200 flats and houses as part of the regeneration plans. There was a shaky moment between the Council and their favoured developers when Council Leader Cllr Greenhalgh gave a binding promise at this meeting in December 2010 not to allow Orion to build a third entrance needing the shops to be knocked down if the owners didn't want them to be. The press teams of Orion and the Council have been trying to insist on collective amnesia of that promise ever since.
The shops on Goldhawk Road, built in the mid 19th century, are a unique example of Victorian era in Shepherds Bush. Most of these shops are family owned and have been in operation for decades. For instance, Cooke’s Pie & Mash located at 48 Goldhawk Road has remained in the same family since 1899.
The shopkeepers allege that the Council’s decision to demolish the shops as part of the proposed regeneration is unlawful in several respects. For example, the Council did not adhere to a proper consultation procedure with market traders, shopkeepers and local residents in relation to either the proposed demolition of the Goldhawk Road shops or the large scale residential development intended to replace the demolished shops.
The Claimants also allege that there has been a complete lack of sustainability appraisals and that the Council is in breach its obligation to discharge its duties under the Race Relations Act 1976.
One of the shopkeepers, Aniza Meghani (the proprietor of Classic Textiles) stated
”the Council’s plans and the development proposal by Orion Shepherds Bush Limited is ill conceived and is largely driven by the development of the residential properties for profit rather than the stated aim of regenerating the market. Our shops on Goldhawk Road are not even part of the market. To seek to demolish our long-standing businesses for the sake of residential properties is unacceptable”.The owners and tenants are represented by the city firm Webster Dixon LLP. Michael Webster, a partner of Webster Dixon LLP stated
“the shopkeepers’ application for a judicial review clearly has merit as the Judge has granted permission for their claim to proceed to a full hearing.”I reported here how the traders had wobbled and almost fallen apart in the face of the might of a large developer and determined Council. But they've rallied and recently Ms Meghani described the fight as being akin to 'David and Goliath'. It seems Goliath just got hit by a well aimed pebble.
I've asked the Council for comment and will report it here when it arrives ... in the meantime what do you think?
1100 UPDATE WEDNESDAY - I've just spoken to the Council, who's spokesman said:
“Shepherds Bush Market is clearly in need of a new lease of life if it is to fulfil its undoubted potential and the vast majority of people who responded to the two public consultations on the planning and regeneration brief were in favour of regenerating the market. Most local people agree that the market area needs a new lease of life if it is to retain its historic position as a vibrant west London destination and this was the spirit in which the planning brief was developed. We have just received notification that this claim from some of the Goldhawk Road shops could now progress and the matter is currently being considered by our lawyers."