The challenge is to Haringey Council setting up a supposedly 50/50 partnership with the Australian multi-national corporation, Lendlease, to take over land and property belonging to the Council, involving demolition and regeneration of estates as well as business premises and private houses in ‘red-lined areas’. If it goes ahead it will be the biggest such transfer of local authority resources to a private entity in UK history. Lendlease have now joined Haringey as a defendant of the HDV in court.
The Judicial Review concluded on Thursday 26 October with David Wolfe,QC, summing up after the three barristers representing Haringey Council and Lendlease had opposed our four grounds of the HDV being unlawful.
1. That it was a commercial venture and should be a company not a LLP, 2. that public consultation had been lacking, 3. that the Public Sector Equality Duty had not been upheld, and 4. that as a plan or strategy it should have gone to a full Council.
They further opposed the granting of Relief [a cap on awards] and said the claim was out of time. They took up the detail of expert advice given to the Council’s Housing Regeneration Scrutiny Panel and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommendations which were strongly critical of the HDV as if to say how open and consultative the Cabinet had been, although the Cabinet had gone ahead despite these.
David Wolfe was then able to show, through their own documents and business plans – much of which, over 700 pages in fact, had been redacted from any public view – that the HDV was indeed a major commercial venture, that it put social as well as affordable housing at risk, that poorer and vulnerable people in households both in estates scheduled for demolition and in leaseholds were not protected, and that this could not be called anything other than a strategy. He asked that the HDV be declared unlawful and relief on costs granted, rejecting the defence claim of being out of time as the whole process had been left undecided and kept changing its terms until the July 2017 Cabinet decision was made.
The judge, Mr.Justice Ouseley, then straightaway concluded the hearing and said that he would make his decision as soon as he could. We understand that this could still take some weeks.
Meanwhile I am very glad to say that the HDV is going nowhere right now, and it increasingly looks like this fundamentally flawed joint venture should not proceed.
To the HDV ‘we say not so’.