Campaigners have vowed to continue their fight against the Oaks Shopping Centre development after their application for a judicial review of the council planning process was turned down.
The application was refused by the Honourable Mr Justice Mitting at the High Court on Monday who rejected all arguments made by The Oaks Action Group. The judge also ordered them to pay Ealing Council’s legal costs of £2,435.
Oaks Action Group spokesman Doug Carnegie says their lawyers Leigh Day believe they still have very clear grounds to challenge the ruling.
They are continuing to argue Ealing Council fixed the planning committee which voted through the plans for the development in Acton High Street in October last year .
They say Acton Central councillor Abdullah Gulaid was removed from the committee as he was likely to vote against the development, passed by the narrowest of margins of seven to six. Ealing Council claim the Labour councillor was removed by his party because of earlier statements made against the scheme which would mean he would be incapable of being impartial at the planning committee.
Mr Carnegie said “The central issue is our claim that Councillor Abdullah Gulaid was illegally substituted in order to ensure the single majority approval of a scheme the great majority of residents think is a dog’s dinner and completely bereft of any public space.”
The group and other opponents, including celebrity architect George Clarke, say the scheme, which includes a nine-storey tower block, is too dense, has little public space and no proper link between the High Street and Churchfield Road.
Developers Acton Regeneration Company reject this, pointing out the £40 million project will provide 142 new homes, better open spaces and shops, as well as jobs for 500 people.
Mr Carnegie says the council’s claim it is not guilty of removing Mr Gulaid as the Labour Party made that decision is ‘absurd’.
He said: “The council argues - with an absurdity that defies belief - that it isn't responsible for Labour whipping the committee. The council's planning code insists this shouldn’t happen. For the council to say it didn't substitute him it is to wash its hands of its role as legal guardian of good process. It's like a World Cup referee refusing a free-kick on the grounds he wasn't the one who elbowed a player off the park!”
He said the suggestion Mr Gulaid made statements supporting the campaigners is ‘feeble’, adding: “There's no evidence of this and they haven't provided any.”
A council spokesperson said: “The judge ruled that Ealing Council did not breach any rules in reference to the planning committee membership process.”