R (McDonagh) v Hackney LBC

01 Jan 2018

Planning and Environment, Public Law and Judicial Review

The Administrative Court gave judgment this week in favour of Hackney LBC in a challenge to the rationality of the local authority’s policy for allocation of pitches for travellers. The decision has been awaited by a number of local authorities in relation to the implications for their pitch allocation policies. Robin Green appeared for the local authority.

The Claimant traveller had applied for judicial review of the local authority’s policy which required travellers to demonstrate that they lived in the local authority area or had a connection to the area. The policy required them to provide documentary evidence of an address in the area to register under the policy and to renew their registration annually. The Claimant argued that the policy was irrational because the need and mechanism for showing a local connection were unduly burdensome on travellers.

The Administrative Court dismissed the challenge. The principle of requiring a connection with the local authority area was rational, given the need to afford priority to those who lived in the area or had a firm point of contact there. Nor was the requirement for travellers to renew their registration on the waiting list irrational as it was essential to ensure that those on the list continued to meet the relevant criteria and that the list did not become unmanageable. There were reasonable steps which travellers could make to ensure they complied with the policy. In short, given the background of scarce resources and competing interests, the policy was fair both as to its starting point and the administrative procedure it established.