25 May Hearing dates for accommodation centre cases
The Wethersfield and Scampton accommodation centre judicial review cases will be considered by a senior planning judge on 12 and 13 July 2023 to decide whether permission should be granted for the claims to continue to a full hearing.
On 27 April 2023, our client, Gabriel Clarke-Holland, filed an application for Judicial Review at the High Court of Justice challenging decisions by the Home Secretary and Minister for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to circumvent planning regulations and accommodate 1,700 asylum seekers at Wethersfield MOD airbase.
West Lindsey District Council also applied urgently for a judicial review in relation to similar plans by the Home Secretary to accommodate asylum seekers at RAF Scampton. The Home Secretary then agreed to delay moving any asylum-seeker to the base until 26 June for Wethersfield and 3 July for Scampton. Braintree District Council has also filed a Judicial Review against the Home Secretary which will be heard at the same time.
Our client has argued that the decision by the Home Secretary – without consultation with the local planning authority or local residents – to use the Wethersfield base as an asylum accommodation centre is unlawful because she should not be able to rely on emergency powers to avoid usual planning processes. He also argues the that an Environmental Impact Assessment by the Levelling Up Secretary is unlawful as it failed to take into account relevant considerations, including that the Home Secretary has stated that she intends to use the site for longer than 12 months. Legal teams for the Home Secretary and Levelling Up Secretary have now responded to our client’s claim for Judicial Review arguing that the decision was lawful in part because the Home Secretary’s circumvention of planning consultation under emergency powers will be time limited to 12 months and then they will need to apply for proper planning permission in order to continue using the site.
Should the claim be granted permission to proceed, the Court will arrange a full hearing.
Court of Appeal developments
Braintree DC approached the accommodation centre plan by bringing a planning case against the Home and Defence Secretaries which was rejected, but they were given permission to appeal. Our client will today apply to intervene in this case. He believes that judicial review is the best route to deal with the legal arguments and the court has no jurisdiction to grant an injunction against the government in these circumstances. But he wants to put our evidence and argument before the Court of Appeal in case they consider the ‘obiter’ points about whether or not the shortage of asylum-seeker accommodation is an emergency which can circumvent planning rules. The Court of Appeal will hear Braintree’s appeal on 12 June.
Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors said:
“The government is using wartime emergency powers to avoid planning rules relying on a housing shortage caused by their own maladministration. The lead planning court judge Mr Justice Holgate decided to consider permission in these three cases together over two days, which reflects the wider issues at stake.”
Gabe is Crowdfunding for his own legal costs and to cover the costs risk. Here is a link to the Crowdfund Justice fund