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Landmark planning legal ruling for race equality

Landmark ruling

Campaigners in Haringey have won a landmark legal victory against Haringey Council, for failing to conduct a race equality impact assessment on a major redevelopment scheme that was awarded planning permission in the face of stiff opposition from local communities.

Traders in Haringey whose case was championed by the Wards Corner Community Coalition objected to local authority plans to redevelop a thriving indoor market area.

In move that will have profound implications for statutory authorities Judges ruled that a planned redevelopment of an indoor market was illegal because the Council had failed to take race equality considerations into account when granting the planning application.

The effect of the ruling will force local authorities to fully asses all race equality issues before giving the green light to any major redevelopment schemes.

Lord Justice Pill, giving the ruling at the Court of Appeal, said the London Borough of Haringey had given approval in 2008 to the plan to regenerate the site that was predominantly used by local independent traders of Turkish, Cypriot, Colombian and Afro Caribbean descent.

“The site incorporates an indoor market comprising 36 units of which 64% of traders are from Latin America or are Spanish speaking.”

He continued:

“There was sufficient potential impact on equality of opportunity between persons of different racial groups, and on good relations between such groups, to require that the impact of the decision on those aspects of social and economic life be considered.”

“There was no analysis of the material before the council in the context of the council’s equality duty. I would allow the appeal and quash the permission.”

Ms Janet Harris, who set up the Tottenham Civic Society in 2006, challenged the planning permission at the appeal court on the ground that the council had failed to comply with the terms of the Race Relations Act, that the council must promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different race groups.

Ms Harris said of the ruling:

“I am delighted with the outcome of the case. Developments of this kind erode the social fabric of communities like mine in Tottenham. If they are not checked, people will eventually look around and wonder why the place where they live is no longer special and vibrant.”

The ruling will have profound implications for Government in particular in relation to the recent budget announcement and other major policy announcements. Black communities throughout the country will be examining the legal ruling to assess to what extent local regeneration or Government polices are in compliance with the law and promoting good race relations.

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