Following a long convoluted legal battle with many twists and turns, market traders at Shepherds Bush Market are celebrating a legal victory after seeing off the threat of redevelopment which they say would have destroyed its widely renowned and greatly valued character and attractiveness.

With the final twist of this case it is now certain that the compulsory purchase order made by the previous Conservative Hammersmith and Fulham Council and confirmed by Community Secretary Eric Pickles in 2014 will be quashed.

Labour Hammersmith Council will now work with the Orion Shepherd’s Bush Ltd (the Market freeholder owner), the market traders and other interested parties to deliver the sympathetic regeneration of the Market which will improve the facilities for the market traders and customers, while maintaining the Market’s unique identity which is so well loved by Londoners.

Richard Stein of Leigh Day, and solicitor for the market traders said: “The fact the Court could only quash the CPO completely was extremely important because Hammersmith & Fulham Council had changed from a Conservative to a Labour led Council in 2014. The new Labour council was elected on a manifesto promising to oppose the Shepherd’s Bush Market CPO made by its predecessor.

Mr Stein continued “As a result, the council is now committed to promoting a market regeneration which safeguards the Market's character and the current stallholders.

“Had the decision been returned to Communities Secretary, Mr Javid, it is quite possible he would have confirmed the same CPO, addressing the concerns of the Court of Appeal, the traders are confident that the council would not do so.”

James Horada, Chair of the Shepherd's Bush Market Tenants Association said “Over the past 2 and half years the Shepherd’s Bush Market traders have been placed under a great deal of duress. The Market has suffered under poor management, causing businesses to fold and footfall to drop.

“The traders are grateful that their fight to protect their rights has been successful and that common sense has prevailed.

“The Shepherd’s Bush Market Tenants’ Association (SBMTA) are most thankful for the decisions of the high court Judges. We are also grateful for the uplifting support that we have received from the thousands of people who signed our Change.org Save Shepherd’s Bush Market Businesses petition.

“We thank Leigh Day for their legal representation and guidance, and the watchful eye of Mr. Andy Slaughter MP, and the Labour Hammersmith & Fulham Council. We appreciate the time given by London Live News who has covered the struggles of the traders in order to protect their livelihoods.

“It is now time to right the wrongs, and we hope that the threat to the existing businesses will now be put to rest and that the traders’ futures will be secured.

“We now hope that there will be positive and constructive dialogue between all parties and we look forward to the traders being treated with respect whilst sensible and fair proposals and investments are offered to aid and strengthen the long-standing businesses of Shepherd’s Bush Market.”

Andy Slaughter MP for Hammersmith and Fulham said: "This has been a five-year struggle which, had it succeeded, would have ripped the heart out of Shepherds Bush. But the tenacity and courage of the small shopkeepers of Goldhawk Road and the traders of Shepherds Bush Market has won through and the hated Compulsory Purchase Order is consigned to history.

"This also means the council – under a new administration – is free to negotiate a better solution for the area. The prize for infamy however goes to the previous secretary of state who disregarded the public inquiry and the painstaking work of his own inspector and overturned her decision to protect the Market.

“It was this arbitrary ruling which the Lord Chief Justice quashed, ensuring, I hope, another century of life for one of London best local markets."

Background

Last week (27 July 2016) the freehold owner of Shepherd’s Bush Market, Orion Shepherds Bush Ltd withdrew its application to appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision by the Court of Appeal to quash the controversial Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) imposed on the area in 2014 by the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

The decision to quash the CPO follows a ruling earlier this year in the Court of Appeal which found the CPO unlawful and overturned a High Court ruling made in August 2015.

During the Court of Appeal hearing in March this year, it transpired that instead of being able to send the decision back to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to reconsider, the Court may have only had the power to quash the CPO completely, meaning that Hammersmith and Fulham Council would need to start the process again.

On Friday 22 July 2016, following a ruling in another case, the Court of Appeal decided that it did not have the power to return the CPO for the Communities Secretary to decide and instead quashed the CPO completely. Market traders took the legal action against the former Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles to quash the CPO issued by the Government for the redevelopment which had included a private block of luxury flats adjoining Shepherd’s Bush Market.

The fear was that the Market would be gentrified, destroying the well-loved character which had survived for over 100 years. The CPO was put in place in February 2015 after Mr Pickles overturned the recommendation of an independent senior inspector following a Public Inquiry in 2014.

The Inspector, Ava Wood, had recommended that the CPO should be refused because the proposed development of Shepherd’s Bush Market did not offer sufficient guarantees and financial safeguards for the special character of the market and the long-standing market traders.

She also stated that the development would threaten the ethnic diversity, independence and small scale retailing environment that is central to the appeal of the area.

Despite this finding, Mr Pickles, as Communities Secretary, overturned his Inspector’s recommendation, enabling the property developer Orion to build on the site, without giving any reasons and involving substantial disruption and alteration to the character of the market.

In August 2015 Mr Justice Dove upheld the CPO and rejected the market traders’ legal challenge. However, law firm Leigh Day, acting for the market traders, took the legal challenge to the Court of Appeal to continue the fight against the decision. Lord Justice Lewison in his judgment handed down in March this year at the Court of Appeal said:

“… although it is clear that the Secretary of State disagreed with the inspector’s view that the guarantees and safeguards were inadequate he does not explain why he came to that conclusion. I do not consider that requiring a fuller explanation of his reasoning either amounts to requiring reasons for reasons, or that it requires a paragraph by paragraph rebuttal of the inspector’s views. But it does require the Secretary of State to explain why he disagreed with the inspector, beyond merely stating his conclusion that he did. The two critical sentences in the decision letter are, in my judgment, little more than 'bald assertions'. The Secretary of State may have had perfectly good reasons for concluding that the guarantees and safeguards were adequate. The problem is that we do not know what they were. In those circumstances I consider that the traders have been substantially prejudiced by a failure to comply with a relevant requirement.” [Para 54]

The traders described the legal action as a battle for their livelihoods, protecting the businesses which have been worked by the same families in the market for generations.