INSPECTOR’S DECISION BACKED BY SECRETARY OF STATE
The inspector’s decision has been backed by the Secretary of State for communities and local government Sajid Javid.
“In relation to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the Secretary of State agrees with the inspector’s analysis of the impact on leaseholders namely that in practice the options for most leaseholders are either to leave the area, or to invest the majority of their savings in a new property.
“Article 8(1) is therefore clearly engaged. “In relation to Article 8(2) (which permits interference which is proportionate when balanced against the protection of the rights and freedoms of others), the Secretary of State finds that the interference with residents’ (in particular leaseholders’) Article 8 rights is not demonstrably necessary or proportionate, taking into account the likelihood that if the scheme is approved, it will probably force many of those concerned to move from this area.
“The guidance on compulsory purchase process for the disposal of surplus land acquired by, or under the threat of, compulsion, states that the compulsory purchase of land is intended as a last resort in the event that attempts to acquire by agreement fail.
“The Secretary of State has considered the council’s case as to the efforts to negotiate and agrees with the Inspector’s view that the council has not taken reasonable steps to acquire land interests by agreement.
“A compulsory purchase order should only be confirmed where there is a compelling case in the public interest to justify sufficiently the interference with the human rights of those with an interest in the land affected.
“The Secretary of State considers that the purpose for which the land is being acquired fits in with the adopted planning framework. “The Secretary of State further considers that the proposed purpose of the order, including the facilitating of the delivery of a mixed tenure residential development and associated landscaping, will contribute to the achievement of the promotion or improvement of the economic wellbeing of the area, and that there are some social benefits from the proposal.
“He also considers the scheme to be viable, that there is not a viable or deliverable alternative to the scheme for the ‘order land.’
“But he does not consider that the council has taken reasonable steps to acquire land interests by agreement.
“In addition, the Secretary of State considers that the proposed purpose of the order will have considerable economic and social dis-benefits in terms of consequences for those leaseholders remaining on the ‘order land’.
“The Secretary of State has carefully considered whether the purposes for which the compulsory purchase order was made sufficiently justify interfering with the human rights of the lessees under section 12(2A) of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981.
“He is not satisfied that such interference is justified.
“In particular he has considered the provisions of Article 1 of the First Protocol to, and Article 8 of, the European Convention on Human Rights. “In this respect, the Secretary of State does not consider that the order is justified or proportionate between the public interest and interests of the residents.
“The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that a compelling case in the public interest for confirming the order has not been made.
“Whilst he considers that this order should not be confirmed, the Secretary of State in principle welcomes regeneration and much needed residential development.
“He also considers that the council’s desired outcome could in principle bring with it considerable benefits.
“He considers that potentially there is a good opportunity for the council to work positively with the remaining leaseholders to alleviate the negative aspects he has highlighted above with a view to resubmitting an order in due course to achieve successfully the objectives set out in the planning framework.
“As to social benefits, and individual impacts on the leaseholders in particular, the Secretary of State agrees with the inspector’s conclusion for the reasons given that, if the order is confirmed, it will have considerable economic, social and environmental dis-benefits in terms of consequences for those leaseholders remaining on the ‘order land’.
“The Secretary of State, however, also notes that the scheme does have some social benefits, namely the provision of early years’ facilities in the form of a gym/ learning centre including facilities for people with learning disabilities and the provision of more housing for the elderly.
Southwark council have now appealed to the minister to reconsider his decision – and are threatening a judicial review.
“It has first called on Sajid Javid MP to reconsider his decision because of an error in the report” said a council press release.
“On Friday, the Secretary of State rejected the compulsory purchase of the eight remaining properties in the first development site on the Aylesbury estate, stating that the council has not done enough to acquire the land by agreement, and that the order would breach the human rights of the remaining leaseholders by forcing them to use their savings to buy a new property.
“But Mr Javid’s findings are based on a former leaseholder policy which the council updated in December 2015 and shared with the Secretary of State. “But this new approach is not reflected in his decision.”
(Editor’s note: The inquiry took place on 30 April, 1-2 May, 12 May, and 13-15 October 2015, being adjourned to allow the Aylesbury Leaseholders Group to seek legal advice and / or representation.
The inspector’s report says: “Eligible leaseholders are required to invest any capital in excess of £16,000 in any shared equity or shared ownership property.
“At the inquiry the council explained that this aspect of the rehousing/compensation package is currently being reviewed. “Nevertheless, at the present time it represents the reality for most leaseholders.”)
Further reading: Southwark council press release Southwark Council will seek judicial review over Aylesbury Estate CPO decision 20 September 2016