Planning legislation requires the planning decision-maker to have regard to relevant “material considerations” when considering an application for planning permission. The scope of what can constitute a material consideration is very wide, but courts have in the past deemed as “material” the protection of the public interest against purely private interests, as well as bias or the perception of bias on the part of the relevant authority.
In relation to the AELTC’s application for permission to develop in Wimbledon Park, there are three matters that are “material” to the application and to which both Councils (Merton and Wandsworth), the GLA and, if it reaches that far the Secretary of State, should give considerable weight:
(1) the covenants imposed by Merton in 1993, in the public interest, which expressly prohibit the type of development and use of the land for which the AELTC are seeking permission.
(2) the public law obligation on Merton to uphold and enforce those covenants, in light of the public promises it gave when it sold the land to the AELTC, and of its duty as trustee.
(3) the conduct of Merton since the application was submitted, which suggests that the Council may be biased in favour of the application and pre-disposed to vary or release the covenants, to allow the development to progress.
The Society has written to both Councils setting out these concerns, and you can read the Society’s The Wimbledon Society's letter, and the Wimbledon Park Residents Association paper referred to in the letter.