Market traders are celebrating the decision in the Court of Appeal to overturn a ruling in the High Court over a controversial Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) imposed on the area by the Government.
Today’s judgment overturns the High Court ruling made in August 2015. Market traders had taken legal action against the former Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, in an effort to quash the CPO issued by the Government for the redevelopment which includes a private block of luxury flats adjoining Shepherd’s Bush Market.
Traders in the much-loved 100-year-old market took legal action after Mr Pickles overturned the recommendation of an independent senior inspector to refuse to confirm the CPO following a Public Inquiry in 2014 because the proposed development of Shepherd’s Bush Market did not offer sufficient guarantees and financial safeguards for the long-standing market traders.
The Inspector, Ava Wood, 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 of State, overturned his Inspector’s recommendation, without giving any reasons.
This decision would enable the property developer Orion to build on the site, which involves substantial disruption and alteration to the market.
Last August the Judge Mr Justice Dove upheld the CPO and declined to decide an application by the market traders for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
However, law firm Leigh Day, acting for the market traders, took the legal challenge direct to the Court of Appeal to continue the fight against the decision. Lord Justice Lewison in his judgment handed down today 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.
Hammersmith and Fulham MP, Andy Slaughter, said: “This is a fantastic outcome for everyone who shops and works in Shepherds Bush Market, and for all Londoners fighting to save traditional markets from faceless developments. The Court rightly found the Government’s arbitrary dismissal of its own inspector's case to be unlawful. This is a major step towards saving this 100-year-old market for future generations."
Richard Stein, partner from the Human Rights Department at Leigh Day solicitors said: “We are delighted that the Court of Appeal judges have agreed with the market traders and confirmed the concerns put forward by the planning inspector who came to the clear conclusion, following a public inquiry into the development, that the proposals would not protect the diversity represented by the current traders and shopkeepers and therefore recommended the CPO be rejected.
“Despite this Mr Pickles chose to ignore this recommendation, apparently without any reason at all, and gave it the go ahead. We have maintained all along that this decision was unlawful and unfair for both the market traders and the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham and we are therefore extremely pleased with this decision.”
James Horada, Chair of the Shepherd’s Bush Market Tenants’ Association, said:
“The judgment given today is a beacon of hope for the long-standing businesses of Shepherd’s Bush Market. These precious market businesses need to be valued and cradled and unfortunately the developers have bullied these hard working traders and treated us like second-class citizens.
“These developers have placed a siege on our businesses and it is so sad that numerous traders have already had to leave the market. The Tenants of Shepherd’s Bush Market deserve justice and these developers must not be allowed to damage our businesses any longer.”