...this case is the first to decide that Councils must assess impact in race equality terms before granting permission to major developments.

"In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same."
Albert Einstein

On Tue 22nd June 2010 The Court of Appeal ruled in our favour quashing the Grainger application.

"This ruling sends the clearest signal that, however persuasive a wealthy developer may be, its voice must not drown out those of local people." John Halford (Bindmans Solicitors)


Haringey Council's handling of the Grainger application has always been under scrutiny by the WCC. From council's lack of neutrality, to inflammatory remarks about traders on the site and the council's failure to heed calls about carrying out a Race Equality Impact Assessment on the Grainger application. But after Haringey Council's special planning committee passed the Grainger application by a bare majority of one on 17th November 2008 the lawfulness of this decision came under the spotlight.

...and so began legal proceedings with John Halford of Bindmans and David Wolfe of Matrix Chambers taking on the case to help overturn Grainger's unjust planning permission. During this time the community came out in force to help raise a significant amount of money to part-fund the court case and a local resident put herself forward as the claimant to secure Legal Aid.

Judicial Review

On 29th Jan 2009 Haringey Council were formally notified of the legal challenge which highlighted failings by the Council to assess the Grainger application with an open-mind, taking into account all the relevant planning issues and its statutory duties.

The grounds of the challenge were:

1) Predisposition of the Chair of the special planning committee. Councillor Sheila Peacock had made known her bias in favour of 'new-build' on Wards Corner and failed to stand down when requested and remained as chair following through her predisposition to cast the deciding vote.

2) A failure of Haringey Council to discharge its duties under Section 71 of the Race Relations Act. This Act requires all local authorities to address issues of Race Equality and Equality of Opportunity before taking a major decision. In this instance the duties of the Race Relations Act had not formed part of the decision making process of the planning committee when determining the Grainger application (for a more detailed explanation see below).

Despite a well argued case by David Wolfe on 16th-17th June 2009 the presiding judge Mr Keith Lindblom QC rejected the case against Haringey Council on 14th of July 2009

"We are down but we are not out, we intend the fight to go on and our legal team has pledged its support. We feel we got right on our side and we think this is a stage in the process rather than the end" WCC

Transcript of Judgement:


Despite losing the first round of the legal battle, the WCC vowed to keep fighting on to ensure the right outcome for Wards Corner and its community. We felt that the test for demonstrating bias was set impossibly high, while the test for compliance with the Race Relations Act was set excessively low. Press Release

Permission to Appeal was granted on 19th November 2009 on the section 71 ground.

"We are obviously delighted. The right decision has been made. A proper assessment of the race equality and equal opportunity considerations will mean that communities have a chance to be listened to in any major development of this kind." WCC

In the meantime Grainger attempted to prevent legal aid claiming misuse of public money (this is despite Grainger themselves receiving £1.5m of public money earmarked for 'community-led regeneration' and an option to buy four council properties for £184,000 total....)

On 5th of May 2010 three Appeal court judges heard the case against Haringey Council where the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) made a significant intervention on behalf of the WCC. On 22nd June 2010 the courts declared the planning permission unlawful and revoked permission...and setting a precedent in the process. Press Release

Appeal Judgement:

Setting a Precedent...

Wards Corner, Section 71 Race Relations Act and setting a precedent.

Under Section 71 of the Race Relations Act public authorities are duty-bound to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between different racial groups. This act covers all functions of public authorities, from housing and education to licensing and environmental health inspections.

Under this act local authorities, when taking decisions, must have due regard to three specific needs:
(a) The need to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination,
(b) The need to promote equality of opportunity between persons of different racial groups,
(c) The need to promote good relations between persons of different racial groups.

The requirements of section 71 are triggered when policies or decisions of a local authority could have potentially discriminatory effects on ethnic minority communities. The act imposes a positive duty on local authorities to ensure potentially discriminatory effects are identified, debated and considered before policies are set or decisions are taken so there is time to make alternations to eliminate or reduce negative impacts and promote equality of opportunity. The exercise/assessment required to fulfil the duty cannot be a tick-box approach - it must be far more meaningful and form an integral part of the decision making process. - This did not happen in the case of Wards Corner.

Wards Corner is a significant site in Tottenham, the proposed redevelopment of Wards Corner is a major one. The community that occupy and use Wards Corner are predominantly from ethnic minority groups. The Grainger scheme threatened to drastically alter the site, increase rents and provided no affordable housing. The potential adverse impact was clear. All this meant that the threshold required for the council to discharge its section 71 duty was surpassed. Yet, the council did no assessment of the impact of the Grainger scheme nor did the planning committee debate the potential impact of the scheme before passing the Grainger application. In our eyes the council did not fulfil its section 71 duties.

[more to come!]

Niall Bolger, Director of Urban Environment at Haringey council's witness statement (his attempt to justify how the council had fulfilled the section 71 duties):

The Equality and Human Rights Commission submitted an additional statement in light of the late submission of Niall Bolgers statement:

Grainger's Response to JR Points - April 2009

Donations Appeal

The WCC would like to give a heartfelt 'thank you' to all those who have supported and donated to the campaign so far. Without you we would not have had the mandate to go forward.