Vulnerable social housing tenants represented at proposed Farringdon hotel public inquiry

By Elf

When ELF was approached by a residents association in Farringdon which represents vulnerable social housing tenants, they were looking for support with a forthcoming public inquiry into the proposed building of a hotel and commercial area that would have significant effects on an already stressed community where development was forcing the indigenous community out. There were serious concerns over the proposed loading area on traffic flows, significant light impacts of building a high rise building and the serious impacts on local historical assets, including the Finsbury Health Centre a Grade 1 Listed Building.

Our ELF enquirer, a formidable presence, had already managed to persuade various transport and heritage assets experts to give some of their advice pro-bono. ELF had the good fortune to secure the newest tenant at 1 Crown Office Row, Jonathan Metzer, who also agreed to act pro bono through the ELF scheme. This was Jonathan’s first public inquiry and he was determined to leave no stone unturned. With enormous skill, he worked with the enquirer, and the experts and at the end of the inquiry, he acknowledged that the appellant seemed surprised at how well prepared the residents were. Thanks should also go to Charlotte Gilmartin, also of 1 COR, who stood in for a day at the Inquiry for Jonathan.

Some of the local residents did attend and a few gave their personal viewpoints to the Inspector. The ELF enquirer, however quickly realised that if the residents group had not taken on a Rule 6 status with a barrister and professional experts, they could easily have been side-lined and not carried as much weight in the Inquiry. It is this difficulty that communities often experience, without the support of legal assistance, these undertakings can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Our ELF enquirer said:
“I cannot thank ELF enough, for engaging Jonathan to take on our case and the fact that he was happy to take it on considering it was his first time doing a planning Inquiry. I realise I did innocently panic along the way with all the emails going back and forth and the printing of our documents, but it has all enabled us as the TRA, to stay in the game alongside the Appellant and set out our views on our case. Our professional experts thought the Inspector was listening to what the TRA had to say and understood the dilemma of the whole application.

We could never have gotten to this stage without the help of Jonathan and will always be indebted to Jonathan, yourself and ELF for allowing us the privilege and opportunity to attend the Planning Inquiry against the conglomerate Whitbread. Whatever the outcome will be, we have had the opportunity to challenge a planning system that needs an overhaul in how it operates and the rights of residents’ access to justice, be it minor in the grand scheme of things.”