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UK-Justice, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 16193
Experience:  Called to the Bar in 2007
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I live near a 4.5 acre site that is designated Metropolitan

Customer Question

I live near a 4.5 acre site that is designated Metropolitan Open Land and was developed by the local authority as a school in the late 1970s following, I believe, central government approval. I have hear that this was an Act of Parliament.
When the school closed in the late 1980s, the buildings were used as Education related offices, but more recently have been used as offices for the local authority.
The local authority has provided its own approval for such change of use.

The local authority now wish to sell the site and have deemed that it is a brownfield site that can be used for residential development.

Can the local authority determine that this is a brownfield site and make it available for sale to developers?
Should there have been some independent legal adjudicatio of the change of use from education purposes?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for your question, I will do whatever I can to help you. Please remember to rate my answer SMILEY FACE OR ABOVE.

Do they have an open space policy?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, the local authority (London Borough of Bexley) do have an open space policy, and have stated that any development would need to address such requirements, along with all the other planning policies of sustainable build, etc.


My question / concern is that the local authority:

1) have granted themselves the right to use the former school building for local authority offices (a specific use taht did not allow the general classification of B1 use); and

2) are now adopting the position that they can deem the land brownfield and approve residential (or other) planning applications in order to maximise their sale proceeds from this site

.. when they may not have the right to make such determination.


If the land used to build the school was given rights to be used to build a school by central government, then how could the local authority (being a conflicted party as owner and arbitrator of use of the site) be authorised to make such determination?


Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
When was change of use granted?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


The change of use took place in 1988. My recollection was that the original change was to ‘offices for education department purposes’, though I have not yet been able to confirm this, with a subsequent ‘creep’ to general local authority office use later.


Publically available documents provide the following detail.


The site (known as Hill View) is part of a former school and when it became surplus to education needs, the open playing field parts of the school were transferred to other open space uses, including the creation of a new cemetery. The buildings have remained in use by the Council as offices since around 1988, with the tarmac playgrounds being used for car parking.


As part of the Council’s ‘Bexley First’ business transformation programme, it is the intention to relocate the Council offices from the Hill View site. The aim of Bexley First is to improve the Council’s efficiency and the delivery of services to local people. Most of the Council’s services and staff will be centralised into new offices within a new development on the site of the Civic Offices in Bexleyheath. Consequently, the buildings on the Hill View site will no longer be needed to accommodate Council offices.



Planning applications available for inspection on the council’s public access website show:


Decisions dated 2 June 1995:

a) approval of two storey extension to form offices for 60 persons at rear of premises;

b) approval for use of whole premises for general local authority purposes and the provision of new windows to the existing gymnasium.


Both approvals include a condition that the premises shall be used only for general local authority office purposes and for no other purpose whether or not within Use Class B1.



In 1988, reference is made on the council website of a (Planning) Committee approval for ‘Conversion of Teaching and Workshop accommodation into offices’. There are no further documents relating to this available for inspection on the website.

Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
A. You are now out of time.

To challenge this by way of judicial review you need to lodge an application within 3 months of the date of decision,

As this happened in 1988 this is now way out of time.

In terms of the provision to turn it you can do 3 things

A. Complain to the chief executive office

They can investigate your complaint and come back to you.

B. If you are not satisfied with the response then you can complain to the local gvoernment ombudsman,

They are free, independent and can investigate your complaint for free.

They can be found at

C. If they find against you you can consider a judicial review.

This is where the court examines the decision and see if it is legal and reasonable.

The court can affirm, quash or change the decision.

But you need to make this within 3 months of exhausting all other avenues of appeal.

I hope this helps.

Please remember to click *** OK SERVICE *** or above so that I am credited for my time. The question does not close and you can ask follow ups.

Important: If you feel the need to rate as one of the lower two scores, it counts as negative feedback so please reply to me via the REPLY with any further questions you may have. I will be happy to assist you further.
UK-Justice, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 16193
Experience: Called to the Bar in 2007
UK-Justice and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you


Can I pose a few folow-up questions:


1. Would the Land registry have details of any restrictions (e.g. site only approved for education use)?


2. Is it possible to obtain details of the original Central Government grant of authority?


3. How would the local authority Planning Committee gain the right to determine planning applications? Could it be their action was ultra vires?

Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
A. They may if registered yes.

B. you may be able under the freedom of information act.

C. It may, but the problem is you are too late to challenge the original decision........
Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going. Did my answer help?


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