High Court rejects judicial review challenge of Greenwich cruise liner terminal planning permission

Out-Law News | 15 Aug 2016 | 11:36 am | 2 min. read

A High Court Judge has rejected a judicial review challenge to overturn the proposal for a cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf, London.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich granted planning permission for the redevelopment in July last year. Planning permission for the terminal was originally granted as part of a redevelopment project at Enderby Wharf. However, a revised planning application was submitted last year to make changes to the northern quarter which triggered a judicial review challenge.

The revised proposal was to accommodate changes in the cruise ship industry and to replace a hotel with two residential towers containing 263 new homes. It also changed a residential tower previously delivering 93 new homes to 214 new homes.

A local resident lodged a judicial review challenge based on a number of grounds relating to air quality. Permission was initially refused but following an oral renewal, permission to bring a judicial review claim was granted.  According to the High Court judgment, the grounds were limited to the claim that the decision "was (arguably) unlawful by the failure to require, or take into account the need for, an assessment of the total cumulative and combined effects on air quality that included the effects of the ship emissions."

The local resident lives 450 metres away from the planned terminal and does not object to the idea of the terminal, but would like to avoid the resulting pollution and health impacts. The resident is concerned that the ships will need to keep their motors running whilst moored to provide electrical power, which will cause nitrogen dioxide emissions.

However, the judge reviewed various air quality reports and statements that were submitted with the planning application and concluded that he was "satisfied that the decision under attack was not unlawful".

The judge went on to say that even if an error had been found and he exercised his discretion, he would have still refused relief and would not have quashed the planning decision. The end result would not have been any different because if the recent planning decision was quashed, "the 2012 permission would go ahead and the same emissions from the ships would occur".

"This judicial review challenge was only triggered following scheme amendments, made last year," said planning expert Victoria Lindsay of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com. "The planning permission has been in place since 2012, the mayor of London had decided not to call in the application and there was no judicial review challenge to the planning permission granted. Therefore, the development of a cruise liner terminal in London, in this location, has for quite some time been considered acceptable and desirable by the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the GLA and the Port of London Authority."

"As well as the provision of a cruise liner terminal for London, the judge focused on the scheme's desirability in terms of boosting the supply of housing in the area at a time when housing is very much on the political agenda and attracting welcome tourism to the area," Lindsay said.