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Michael Harman

Holmes & Hills LLP Contact - Alex Gillott
Bocking End Direct tel 020 7525 4878
Braintree Fax - 020 3014 8466
Essex CM7 9AJ Our ref - LEG/RP/PL/AG/138078
Your ref - OBF/AE/J
Date - 6 April 2018

SENT BY POST & EMAIL - mjh@holmes-hills.co.uk / info@oldbermondseyforum.org
/ russell@bvag.net

Dear Mr Harman,

Pre-Action Protocol Response
Old Bermondsey Village Neighbourhood Forum

This is a response to the pre-action protocol letter received from Mr Russell Gray, on
behalf of the Old Bermondsey Village Neighbourhood Forum (“OBVNF”) on 27th March
2018. Rather than allowing the usual 14 days to respond, Mr Gray sought a response from
the Council within 7 days. In light of the intervening Easter period, it was not possible to
respond within those timescales, as the Council explained in its email to Mr Gray of 28th
March 2018. This response has been provided on 6th April 2018, within six working days
(and ten calendar days) of receipt of OBVNF’s pre-action letter.

1 The claimant

Russell Gray on behalf of
Old Bermondsey Village Neighbourhood Forum
14 Crucifix Lane
London SE1 3JW

2 From

Southwark London Borough Council
160 Tooley Street
London SE1 2QH

3 Reference details

The decision of the London Borough of Southwark of 26th February 2018 to refuse to
designate a revised Neighbourhood Area proposed by OBVNF.

Doreen Forrester-Brown, Director of Legal Services
Duncan Whitfield, Strategic Director of Finance & Corporate Services
Legal Services Switchboard - 020 7525 5000
PO Box: 64529 Website - www.southwark.gov.uk
London SE1P 5LX Chief Executive - Eleanor Kelly
DX: 136147 LONDON BRIDGE 7
Location: 160 Tooley Street
London SE1 2QH
4 The details of the matter being challenged

In 2014 the Council designated part of its administrative area as a Neighbourhood Area
pursuant to s.61G of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The designation followed
two applications from distinct bodies to designate overlapping areas. In the event, the
Council did not designate either of the proposed areas, but pursuant to its duty under
s.61G of the 1990 Act it ensured that part of the proposed areas was designated as a
Neighbourhood Area. The designated area was known as ‘Area A’ and the reasons for its
designating were set out in a report of August 2014. The designation of Area A was not
subject to challenge. OBVNF was subsequently designated a Neighbourhood Forum
pursuant to s.61F of the 1990 Act in respect of Area A.

In September 2017 OBVNF applied to extend the Neighbourhood Area. That application
was refused by the Council in a decision taken on 26th February 2018 which became
effective on 7th March 2018. The refusal to extend the Neighbourhood Area is the decision
subject to potential challenge.

5 Response to the proposed claim

The Council proposes to defend the claim in full.

Contrary to the suggestion in the pre-action protocol letter in respect of proposed Ground
1, the Council:
1. Did not fail to take account of the fact that the Bankside, Borough and London
Bridge Characterisation Study included the area North of Snowsfields in the
same area as that to the South. The officer’s report made explicit reference to
the Characterisation Study 2013 and the Characterisation Addendum 2014. The
Council’s decision also took into account the legal Opinion submitted by OBVNF
which argued that “all maps in the section of the Characterisation Study on
Bermondsey (from page 104) describing the character of the area (in terms of
urban structure, built form and heritage etc) include the first area, north of
Snowsfields; whereas the Officer Report chooses to take Snowsfields as the
‘natural’ Northern boundary.” The Council had regard to the Characterisation
Study in reaching its decision but that Study was not determinative of the issue
before the Council. OBVNF does not allege that the Council had regard to any
immaterial consideration or reached an irrational conclusion in declining to
designate the proposed Neighbourhood Area.

2. Did not fail to take into account the fact that the areas to the North and South of
Snowsfields fall within the same Bermondsey Conservation Area. In reaching its
decision the Council was aware of and had regard to the fact that land to the
north and south of Snowsfields fell within the same Conservation Area. That
factor was not determinative of the issue before the Council. Its refusal to
designate the proposed Neighbourhood Area was perfectly proper and OBVNF
does not suggest that it had regard to any immaterial consideration or reached
an irrational planning judgment as to the appropriate area for designation.

3. Did not fail to take into account the consultation response from Team London
Bridge or indeed any of the consultation responses that had been received.
Consultation responses were summarised in paragraphs 19 – 25 of the officer’s
report and in Appendix 9 to the report and a link was provided in the report to full
copies of all consultation responses. The report explicitly stated at paragraph 20

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that “There were a considerable number of consultation responses from
residents and small businesses that supported the proposed extension of the
neighbourhood area….Many of the consultees expressed the view that the
proposed extension areas along with Area A formed a coherent neighbourhood
that was appropriate for designation as a neighbourhood area.”

In respect of proposed Ground 2:
1. The Council has not failed to have regard to guidance in paragraph 036 of the
Planning Practice Guidance that strategic sites can be included in Neighbourhood
Areas. In refusing to designate the proposed extension to the Neighbourhood Area,
the Council was fully aware of relevant guidance and policy, including the guidance
at paragraph 036 of the PPG. The Council did not refuse to designate the proposed
Neighbourhood Area on the basis that it would be impermissible to include a
strategic site, but rather for the reasons set out in the officer’s report, which are not
subject to challenge.

2. The Council’s decision was based on whether the proposed area was appropriate
for designation as a Neighbourhood Area and was entirely proper and in accordance
with s.61G of the 1990 Act and relevant guidance in the PPG.

3. In reaching its decision the Council did not pre-judge or make any assumptions
about what would emerge from developing, testing and consulting on any draft
Neighbourhood Plan, and there is no basis on which OBVNF can suggest otherwise.
Its reasons for refusing to designate the proposed area as set out in the officer’s
report are perfectly proper and do not include any assumption as to OBVNF’s
prospective plans for the area.

6 Details of any other Interested Parties

The Council does not believe there to be any Interested Parties.

8 Response to requests for information and documents

There has been no request for additional information or documents.

9 Address for further correspondence and service of court documents

All correspondence in this matter should be sent to:

Postal Address – Legal Services, Southwark Council, Hub 2, PO Box 64529, London
SE1P 5LX
Visitor Address - Legal Services, Southwark Council, 160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH

Yours sincerely

Alex Gillott
Senior Solicitor
Legal Services, Finance & Corporate Services
E-mail: alexander.gillott@southwark.gov.uk

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