The news that proposals for the redevelopment of Shepherds Bush
Market have been abandoned is a salutary reminder that there are
numerous hurdles such schemes need to overcome, any one of which,
even the least expected, can trip the developer up and put a
premature end to the project.
On the face of it, the redevelopment proposals for the market
had everything going for them: the proposed developer had funding
behind it; the local authority, Hammersmith and Fulham LBC had
recognised the importance of a redevelopment of the market both in
local plan policy and a specific planning framework setting out the
Council's objectives in some detail. Perhaps unsurprisingly
outline planning permission had been granted. What could possibly
Well, as it turned out, the compulsory purchase order (CPO)
could, and did, go spectacularly wrong! Before the Court of
Appeal's decision in this case, I, and many other experienced
practitioners, would have told you that, once planning permission
has been granted, a CPO to secure its implementation is, if not a
formality, very difficult for objectors to resist. In most cases, I
would still stick to that view. In this case, I reckoned without
The CPO, as might be expected, attracted a large number of
objectors, not least among the market traders and was considered by
an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State at a Public
Inquiry. The Council's planning framework emphasised the
importance of ensuring that the scheme "...crucially maintains
existing traders and provides them with the security to ensure that
the market can continue to operate without interruption and serve
existing customers and communities."
However, the Inspector was not satisfied that the proposals
contained sufficient safeguards to ensure that market traders would
be able to afford the rents for the future market stalls and
therefore concluded that the scheme failed to meet one of its own
key objectives and recommended that the CPO should not be
Two factors in particular led to her conclusion: first, a rent
freeze had been agreed during the redevelopment but there were no
details of what rent levels would be after completion of the
development and, second, there was no indication of the sizes of
the stalls – details of which were left by the planning
permission to be submitted before commencement of development. As
retail rents are calculated on a per square foot basis, without
knowing the sizes of the stalls, there was no way of knowing
whether rents would be affordable to existing traders.
The Secretary of State considered the Inspector's report but
did not agree with the Inspector on this point and confirmed the
CPO. Judicial review proceedings were brought by the market
traders' association in relation to that decision. The Court of
Appeal quashed the decision to confirm the CPO because the
Secretary of State did not give any reason for disagreeing with the
Inspector's conclusion. Rather than go back to square one, the
developer has announced it is pulling out of the deal.
Where that leaves the proposal to redevelop the market remains
to be seen. Meanwhile, the market traders have been rewarded for
their perseverance and attention to detail.
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