Date set for Paddington Cube Court of Appeal Challenge

Paddington Cube (now marketed as Paddington Square) seen from Praed Steet

Paddington Cube (now marketed as Paddington Square) seen from Praed Steet

01 May 2018

Date set for Paddington Cube Court of Appeal Challenge
SAVE Britain's Heritage is pleased to announce that our challenge to the Secretary of State regarding the refusal to give reasons for not calling in the Paddington Cube (now marketed as Paddington Square) will be heard at the Court of Appeal on 19th July. 

Our legal action is focused on the government’s failure to follow published policy announced in Parliament that reasons would be given for decisions not to call in major planning decisions for public inquiry. We believe this case goes to the heart of open and accountable decision making and needs robust scrutiny.

In granting SAVE leave to bring proceedings to the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Lewison said: "The question whether the Secretary of State may adopt a policy which does not conform with his published policy is an important one, and this ground of appeal has a real prospect of success.”

Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: “Call-in for major schemes is an important safeguard within the planning process and giving reasons for decisions can only improve understanding of public decision making. This is particularly important in cases involving major demolition and contentious development. We look forward to our case being heard in July.”
Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: "Local councils are under increasing pressure to approve damaging development proposals. The ability of the Secretary of State to hold a public inquiry under an independent planning inspector is a vital safeguard, allowing contentious cases and issues to be examined and assessed in an open and public forum. An essential part of this process is that the Secretary of State gives reasons when he declines to hold an inquiry. This was established policy, announced through Parliament but was changed by civil servants without any announcement and even more surprisingly without telling ministers."  

SAVE, the Victorian Society and the Imperial College NHS Trust which operates nearby St Mary's Hospital each asked the Secretary of State to call-in the highly controversial planning application for an independent public inquiry. 

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid turned down those requests in March 2017 and did not give any reasons for his decision, despite published policy announced in Parliament in 2001.

SAVE initially launched a Judicial Review to challenge the Secretary of State’s failure to give reasons. This was refused in November 2017, and then we then applied for permission to proceed to the Court of Appeal. This was granted and the Court of Appeal hearing will be held in July.


In SAVE’s view, the highly controversial Paddington Cube planning application was badly handled for the following reasons:
- The well-publicised involvement of Cllr Robert Davies as chair of the planning committee and his media comments in support of the scheme prior to submission to the local planning authority,
- By allowing the demolition of the fine 1907 former Royal Mail sorting office, and its replacement with a 15 storey tower in a Conservation Area, this proposal sets a dangerous precedent. It sends out the message that Westminster is abandoning its once exemplary conservation and design policies.
- The concerns from neighbouring St Mary's Hospital regarding ambulance access as a result of the scheme which were ignored in reaching the decision to grant planning permission, and
- The Secretary of State's refusal to give reasons for his decision not to call a public inquiry.

Since SAVE's judicial review case in the High Court in November 2017, the case law on this issue has been dramatically changed by a Supreme Court judgement on a case brought by CPRE against Dover Council.

CPRE Kent won a landmark victory at the Supreme Court in December 2017, which overturned the decision by Dover District Council to grant planning permission for 521 houses and a retirement village in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe. 

The Supreme Court agreed with CPRE Kent’s arguments that the Planning Committee at Dover District Council did not give legally adequate reasons for granting planning permission, which they acknowledged would cause significant harm in a protected landscape.

Planning permission for the demolition of the historic former Royal Mail Sorting Office, the site of the Paddington Cube, was granted by Westminster City Council in August 2017.