Judge orders Islington Council to reveal documents about controversial development
PUBLISHED: 16:37 29 June 2020
A judge has ordered Islington Council to hand over information and documents amid a long-running dispute about a controversial development site.
Islington resident Gillian Weston won a case against the authority over plans to demolish 12 garages on Windsor Street and build a three-storey care home for adults with learning difficulties and autism.
The issues started after a planning meeting in 2015, in which the capital project manager said the application would be approved come what may and despite expected opposition from Ms Weston and her neighbours.
Opposition to the scheme, approved in 2018 and scheduled to be finished by July 2022, claims the plans are not suitable for the area or for supported living.
READ MORE: Windsor Street block for people with learning disabilities given green light
Ms Weston then filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request - later redesignated as an Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) request.
She asked if the site was earmarked for development, if it had been the subject of a pre-application inquiry, to see any planning reports relating to the development and if Islington Council had prepared any internal briefs for the land.
More than 50 days later - a month longer than allowed for EIRs - Ms Weston received some of the information requested.
A nearly five-year dispute over what information the council held and could provide, ensued.
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On June 18 this year, Judge Paul Holmes ruled comments at the planning meeting implied a “mindset that the decision had been taken, and would be maintained, whatever the views received through the consultation process”.
He said: “The tribunal is not prepared to take at face value the assertions of the council that it does not hold any more of the requested information.”
There is “likely to be, or to have been at the time of the request, rather more recorded information in connection with this substantial and significant project than the council has been able, thus far, to produce”, he added
He ruled Islington Council must produce the extra information required.
Ms Weston, who is a psychologist and PhD student in epidemiology and public health at University College London, said: “I’m grateful for the tribunal’s decision, but if Islington Council had shared the information when it was requested nearly five years ago and taken a less adversarial approach, residents with learning disabilities might now be living in proper homes and not still waiting for this unsuitable scheme to be built.”
A spokesperson from Islington Council said it is considering the ruling.
They said: “The design and quality of the homes at the Windsor Street supported housing project has been led by the needs of local residents with learning disabilities.
“Service users and carers were consulted on the design to ensure the council is meeting their expressed needs.
“The scheme at Windsor Street has been designed to provide flexible supported living for 11 residents with a range of needs.”
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