201704.18

High Court Overturns Unlawful Housing Zone Designation

In response to the extreme pressure on housing stocks in the London area, a system of housing zones has been introduced to deliver thousands of affordable new homes. However, in a decision of importance to property professionals, the High Court has overturned Bromley town centre’s designation as a housing zone.

The scheme is designed to unlock and accelerate housing delivery in the capital and to provide more affordable homes for working Londoners. It is a requirement for designation that local authorities must deliver a minimum of 1,000 new homes on brownfield sites within each zone. Bromley was one of 31 housing zones approved by the Mayor of London and its designation brought the promise of more than £27 million in funding from the Greater London Authority (GLA).

Bromley’s successful bid for designation was based on delivery of 1,150 new homes, of which 35 per cent were expected to be affordable. However, a property company feared that its promotion of its land holdings in the area for housing would be prejudiced by the designation and mounted a judicial review challenge.

In upholding the company’s arguments, the Court found that, on a true reading of the scheme’s prospectus, Bromley’s bid did not comply with the requirement that at least 1,000 new homes would result from the designation. A number of housing projects that were already in the pipeline had wrongly been included in the figure of 1,150 although they did not require GLA intervention and were unconnected to the housing zone designation. When they were removed from the equation, the number of new homes that would be delivered in Bromley fell below 1,000. The town had thus not met the criteria for designation.

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