Residents fight special needs development

By Robyn Rosen, August 13, 2009

Campaigners against the building of a new development for Orthodox families in Stamford Hill will learn today if they can appeal against the plans.

Hackney Council last year approved proposals to redevelop the former Avigdor School site in Lordship Road into a new special needs school and nursery and 29 residential units for Orthodox families.

But hundreds of local residents have opposed the scheme and more than 30 turned up at the High Court last Friday to apply for a judicial review against the council’s decision.

On behalf of the protesters, known as the Avigdor Futures campaign group, barrister William Upton argued that the council’s decision should be quashed on a number of grounds. He claimed, among other things, that the council had failed to comply with Environmental Impact Assessment requirements and had also not complied with development plan policies.

He further pointed out that the minutes of the council’s committee meeting indicated that Ofsted had not raised objections to the proposals. But he claimed Ofsted had never been consulted about the plans.

Mr Justice Duncan Ouseley dismissed the other points but said that the Ofsted one could justify a judicial review.

He adjourned his decision, asking that an explanation for the alleged inconsistency be found before the court reconvened. “The question is whether Ofsted has expressed a view at all,” the judge said. “There has been no answer to that so far. If the planning committee was influenced in its view by confirmation that Ofsted had no concerns when, in fact, Ofsted had never been asked, then the committee may have been misled.”

On behalf of Hackney Council, Johanna Boyd criticised objectors for “nit-picking”, saying their points had all been raised before.

    Last updated: 11:27am, August 13 2009