R (Bedford) v Islington London BC

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date31 July 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] EWHC 2044 (Admin)
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
Docket NumberCO/0529/2002
Date31 July 2002

[2002] EWHC 2044 (Admin)





Mr Justice Ouseley


The Queen on the application of
(1) Edward Bedford
(2) Elizabeth Clare
London Borough of Islington
Arsenal Football Club Plcinterested Party

MR ROBERT McCRACKEN, MR GREGORY JONES and MR JEREMY PIKE (instructed by Messrs Earthrights Solicitors, Essex CM22 6PJ) appeared on behalf of THE CLAIMANTS

MR ROBIN PURCHAS QC and MISS KAREN McHUGH (instructed by London Borough of Islington Legal Services Department) appeared on behalf of THE DEFENDANT

MR DAVID ELVIN QC and MR DANIEL KOLINSKY (instructed by Messrs Gouldens, London EC4M 7NG) appeared on behalf of the INTERESTED PARTY

Wednesday 31 July 2002




In 1913 Arsenal Football Club ("Arsenal FC") moved from Woolwich to Highbury Stadium in the London Borough of Islington. The advent of all-seater stadia for Premiership clubs caused a dramatic fall in its ground capacity, the seat revenue from which is a vital part of its national and international success. It concluded that the existing stadium site could not be redeveloped for a stadium of appropriate size, nor could the existing stadium be expanded to give it a capacity comparable to that of the club's major national and international rivals. Accordingly it needed to relocate. Arsenal FC wished to remain close to what for nearly 90 years has been its home location and is the largest concentration of its supporters, albeit but a small percentage of the total.


After consideration of a number of alternatives, it concluded that a site at Ashburton Grove, Highbury, near to its current ground, afforded it the best opportunity. The site is largely, but not wholly, owned by the London Borough of Islington.


The Club's proposals emerged publicly and formally in 1999. The London Borough of Islington produced planning briefs for public consultation and a scoping opinion for the Environmental Statement which this development would need. The development would encompass not just the new stadium at Ashburton Grove, but redevelopment at nearby Lough Road to accommodate a waste recycling centre, to be displaced from Ashburton Grove and also the redevelopment of the existing Highbury stadium site. So three sites close to one another near Highbury were involved. The range of financially enabling or supportive development involved included housing, business and community uses. The combined proposals were to provoke controversy and division amongst residents near the three sites, and indeed amongst supporters of the club.


The Environmental Statement produced by the Club is a lengthy document which was subject to extensive public consultation. Eventually Islington's officers recommended that, although the proposals did not comply in a number of respects with UDP policy, planning permission should be granted.


Following a Council meeting on 10 December 2001, at which local residents on both sides and the developer were heard, Islington resolved to grant planning permission for all three developments. On 30 May 2002, following the conclusion of an agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Islington granted the planning permissions.


Although earlier threats of judicial review proceedings had not come to pass, judicial review proceedings which challenged the resolution of 10 December 2001 were launched by the Islington Stadium Communities Alliance ("ISCA") and four individual local residents. Sullivan J refused permission on paper on 19 April 2002. The grounds before him were seen to have no merit and to amount to no more than a dispute about the planning merits which it was not for the court to resolve.


A renewed application for judicial review was heard by Richards J. On 30 May 2002, he ordered that the applications for permission should be dealt with at the same time as the substantive hearing. He ordered consolidated grounds to be served which would cover both matters newly raised before him and those previously raised before Sullivan J insofar as they were still pursued.


The matter now before me is brought by only two residents. The other claimants have fallen by the wayside. The consolidated grounds in part were not really pursued, notably to the extent that they raised human rights grounds, which were misconceived and unsupported by any evidence. A number of additional grounds were sought to be raised. The grounds raised were refined and altered in the skeleton argument, and before me, from those set out in the claimants' skeleton argument. No possible point or permutation of a point has been overlooked by counsel for the claimants. I hope I do justice to the variety and ingenuity of his multifaceted arguments. They have put the decision-making process of the London Borough of Islington through a demanding legal audit as if a roving commission were being conducted on behalf of all objectors. I have examined all of those points. In the end I have concluded that these applications fail. Most of the points raised are indeed unarguable.

The Background


It is necessary in this case to set out a little of the process of the decision making in the light of the range of allegations which have been made, because one matter is clear. The London Borough of Islington has been concerned from the outset to consult very widely about this proposal at all stages and has been very open about its thought processes. Arsenal FC, too, has properly been concerned to consult widely in its own way. I take the following description of the processes briefly from the witness statement of Mr Harrington, the Council's Planning Officer who had overall responsibility for the three applications.


Mr Harrington describes how he established the Ashburton Grove Highbury Review Group after the proposals emerged. This group comprised around twenty representatives of community and business groups, Council officers, councillors and representatives of Arsenal FC. It has met a total of 23 times. Regular participants included the first claimant, Mr Bedford, and a number of other representatives who were at one time part of the original proceedings.


Mr Harrington describes the need to prepare supplementary planning guidance ("SPG") in respect of the proposals so as to guide the anticipated applications and to provide a basis for engaging local people and businesses in the debate about the proposals. He describes the very extensive arrangements put in place for consulting on the draft SPG. Invitations were sent to residents and property owners within the Ashburton Grove area. A summary leaflet was sent to 15,000 addresses and was displayed elsewhere. Newspaper advertisements were published and posters were put up. Three public meetings were held and there were discussions in neighbourhood forums. The draft SPG and the results of consultation were considered by the Council and the SPG was adopted in August 2000.


It was evident early on that an Environmental Statement would be required. In order to facilitate and inform the Council's approach, the scoping opinion which is envisaged by the Environmental Statement Regulations was initiated by the preparation of draft scoping reports in June and September 2000. Upon these reports the Council again consulted local community and business representatives and a variety of other interested parties. The June scoping report was also considered by the review group and the consultation responses were all taken into account when the scoping opinion for the Environmental Statement was adopted in October 2000.


The main Environmental Statement was produced in May 2001. It dealt with all three sites and comprised a main report of 252 pages, 13 technical annexes and a non-technical summary. As the plans were revised, supplements to the Environmental Statement were produced. All the application documents and the Environmental Statement were placed on deposit for public inspection in a number of locations. The application material was placed on CD-Rom which was made available free of charge to members of the review group and, subject to a nominal charge, to others living within a wide area around the three sites. The main report of the Environmental Statement and key planning application documents were posted on the Council's web site. The Council also instructed a number of consultants to provide it with further information in relation to this material. In addition, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment was asked to provide its appraisal of the calibre of the Environmental Statement, which it did. The Environmental Statement was said by the Institute to have sections that were good and sections that were satisfactory. None of the sections of the Environmental Statement as it finally stood was subject to significantly critical comment. The consultation responses were then considered by the Council.


The planning applications themselves were the subject matter of a very extensive consultation. These included the review group, drop-in centres, internet information, public meetings, the leafleting of 45,000 local individuals, and various other projects. The Council received more than 2,000 comments in response to the first set of applications and nearly that number in response to the later variations. These were summarised in the reports to the Council meeting of 10 December 2001. The Council reports were also sent out to a number of statutory and other interested bodies, and were posted on the Council's web site and were made available on request at the same time. This was ten days before the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
22 cases

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT