Published On: 9th May 2023

Public Interest Law Centre has issued a claim in the High Court regarding the controversial Aylesbury Estate redevelopment. We are supporting prominent resident and campaigner to hold Southwark Council and Notting Hill Genesis to account! 

Today, 9 May 2023, PILC has issued a Judicial Review claim in the High Court on behalf of Aysen Dennis, secure council tenant and campaigner who has been fighting against the demolition of the Aylesbury council estate.  The claim is against Southwark Council (defendant) and developer Notting Hill Genesis (interested party). 

Southwark Council resolved to grant planning permission for ‘Phase 2B’ of the redevelopment of the Aylesbury estate on 17 January 2023. This latest phase is one in a long history of redevelopment on the estate and would see the demolition of 5 buildings including Ms Dennis’ home which she recently opened for an anti-gentrification exhibition.  

The legal case concerns an ‘s96A non-material amendment’ to the historic overarching 2015 Outline Planning Permission covering the Aylesbury Estate. This amendment, which adds the word ‘severable’ to the permission, makes it much easier for the developer to “mix and match” new planning permissions across the Estate that differ from the original masterplan.  

This comes after a recent Supreme Court judgment- [Hillside]- which clarified that a planning permission to develop a plot of land is not severable into separate permissions applicable to discrete parts of the wider site, unless the permission clearly says so. This causes problems for developers who have been relying on “drop in” planning permissions to change parts of large development schemes which are inconsistent to what was originally consented. Ms Dennis argues that in accepting this amendment, Southwark Council have subverted this Supreme court ruling and attempted to bypass the full planning process in their attempts to demolish the Aylesbury Estate.  

For residents like Ms Dennis, this renders historic consultation of residents meaningless and gives power to developers to move further away from original plans years into redevelopment – a practice many housing campaigners in London are weary of.  

The Claimant, Ms Dennis, is challenging Southwark Council’s planning authority’s decision to grant Notting Hill Genesis’ s.96A non-material amendment.  

The Claimant argues that:  

1. Southwark Council unreasonably came to the conclusion that adding the word ‘severable’ to a historic planning permission was “non-material”; and  

2. As the historic Outline Planning Permission was not severable, they must apply for an entirely new permission for the entire scheme, suggested by the Supreme Court’s judgment in Hillside Parks Ltd v Snowdonia National Park Authority 2022.  

Resolution to grant permission to Phase 2B was already highly contentious due to the proposed reduction of social-rented homes in favour of shared ownership and at least 50% privatisation. Those decanted from these homes were not consulted with on plans which will see significant carbon emissions released due to mass demolition, which locals say causes inexcusable harm to the planet. By acting to sever Phase 2B from the historic permission, gains by residents – such as restricting the height of buildings to 20 storeys – could be lost with a 25 storey all-private tower the centrepiece of Phase 2B. 

Ms Dennis states:  

“Aylesbury estate was built for working class communities to live safely and securely.  Now it is the site of a battle between our communities, and the councils and private developers who seek to demolish and privatise our homes.  We cannot allow them to spread insecurity and socially cleanse us.  We demand no demolition, no privatisation – refurbishment, security and justice!”   

This work is part of PILC’s Gentrification Project: Supporting access to justice in the class-based transformation of urban space  

Alexandra Goldenberg and Saskia O’Hara, who are leading the project say: 

“It is already difficult for communities to play a meaningful role in the planning process, and this is never more true than for a resident of a London estate which has been a target for demolition by councils and private developers over decades. Developers should not be able to sidestep the findings of the Supreme Court in this manner. For the council to permit this is an affront to its public”  

Please keep an eye on the blog for latest developments with this case!  

Ms Dennis’ legal team is:  

Alexandra Goldenberg and Saskia O’Hara of the Public Interest Law Centre 

Alex Shattock of Landmark Chambers. 

Photography: Luisa Le Voguer Couyet