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Bath residents win legal battle against demolition of social housing

Residents from a social housing estate in Bath have today successfully challenged their local council at the High Court against the proposed demolition of their homes and community.

Posted on 20 June 2018

In 2017 Bath and North Somerset Council granted the developer Curo outline permission to demolish and rebuild large parts of the Foxhill estate.

These plans allowed Curo to demolish up to 542 homes in Foxhill and replace them with new homes, with the loss of more than 200 social homes for rent. Residents instructed law firm Leigh Day to challenge that decision through a judicial review at the High Court.

At a hearing at the High Court in January 2018, Leigh Day argued that the initial planning application relating to equality and socio-economic considerations was flawed. The law firm argued, on behalf of the residents, that the Council failed to properly consider the impact on persons with protected characteristics.

It also claimed that Bath and North Somerset Council had misinterpreted its own policy on redevelopment of housing estates. In today’s decision.

Mr Justice Lewis found that there was no evidence that the Council had taken into account a range of issues faced by residents including age, disability, race and pregnancy or maternity which it has a duty to do under the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Justice Lewis said: [Para 27]”…In the present case, there is no evidence at all that the defendant had due regard as required by section 149(3)(a) and (b) [of the equality act] to have due regard to the need to remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by persons who share a relevant protected characteristic or to take steps to meet the needs of such persons The relevant characteristics were age, disability, race and pregnancy or maternity.”

Rowan Smith from law firm Leigh Day, the lawyer who represented the residents, said:

"We are extremely pleased for the residents of Foxhill estate who have spent years fighting to keep their homes.

“Today's strong judgment from the High Court, that the Council breached its public sector equality duty in granting outline planning permission for the demolition, is a huge vindication of our clients’ efforts both in terms of fundraising and also providing evidence in support of the case.

“The housing association has since made a complete U-turn and abandoned its plans in favour of refurbishment, and it is our understanding that the Council is not appealing the judgment.

“This means that Foxhill residents now have the peace of mind they have long wished for, knowing that their homes, including the 204 affordable homes that would have otherwise been lost, are safe."

Counsel for the residents was Sarah Sackman of Francis Taylor Building, instructed by Leigh Day.