Court orders change of Direction for Mayor
Mark Lowe QC with Rory Clarke appeared for the London Borough of Enfield against Geoffrey Stephenson for the Mayor in an important Court of Appeal decision on the principle of sound administration in public law: The Mayor of London v The London Borough of Enfield  EWCA 202 (Click here for full text). The dispute concerned what happens when two public bodies reach conflicting conclusions on the same subject and contains useful guidance as to when one decision maker may lawfully differ from another decision maker when they are dealing with the same or similar issues. The Mayor had used his powers under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 to direct Enfield to replace a civic amenity site it had closed and sold to a developer for housing. The Mayor acted to support his Municipal Waste Management Strategy. The Mayor’s reasons for doing so were later rejected by the Secretary of State at a planning inquiry concerning the closed site because she agreed with her inspector that the similarly worded policy in the London Plan did not in the circumstances require physical replacement of the site. Geoffrey Stephenson argued that the Mayor was nevertheless entitled to maintain his view that a replacement site should be provided and to refuse to withdraw his direction. Mitting J. had found, following R v Warwickshire County Council ex parte Powergen plc  3 PLR 62;  75 P&CR 89 (Click here for full text), that it was no longer open to him to do so. The Court of Appeal agreed and held that once his arguments had been rejected in the public inquiry process that view became untenable, and the Mayor had failed to provide sufficient reasons for him rationally to depart from the Secretary of State’s decision.
The appeal from the decision below ordering the withdrawal of the Mayor’s direction was dismissed. (Appearances by Mary Cook and Anthony Dinkin QC at the planning inquiry completed Chambers’ monopoly of proceedings.)