Residents given net ruling hope in 'pigeongate' case
Published 11/11/2016 | 13:41
Residents in an exclusive London street have been given fresh hope by a High Court judge that they just might be able to keep a 60ft bird net in place to fend off a plague of pigeons.
Legal action was triggered by Kensington and Chelsea Council's demand that the protective netting, which did not have planning permission, be taken down.
In a costly battle that has become known as "pigeongate", the royal borough's planners refused to grant retrospective permission for the netting to be retained in the rear areas of 17 and 21 De Vere Gardens and began enforcement proceedings in 2014 to have it removed.
The birds moved in after two hotels were demolished in 2010 to make way for the £600 million One Kensington Gardens development opposite Kensington Palace.
Planning judge Mr Justice Hickinbottom, sitting in London, described how pigeons which had nested in the demolished hotels for many years were driven out and began roosting in the eaves and roofs of nearby properties, and particularly in the gap between Nos 17 and 21.
The judge said: "This resulted in substantial pigeon droppings falling on the windows, window sills, pipes, cables, wires, patios and ledges of the properties."
The claimants, Seventeen De Vere Gardens (Management) Ltd, erected the netting in December 2013 with the agreement of the owners and occupiers on No 21, and said it had been successful in controlling the pigeon infestation.
In an appeal to a planning inspector, they argued they should be given more time to comply with the enforcement notice which would enable them to make a fresh application for planning permission with information, including scale drawings, missing from the earlier rejected application.
The appeal succeeded to the extent that the inspector, in October 2015, extended the time for compliance from one month to five months.
The council's planning applications committee (PAC) refused to determine the fresh application on the basis it was the same as the earlier application, only with the addition of the scale drawings.
But, on Friday, the planning judge ruled the PAC decision was legally flawed because it had been influenced by an officer's report which was "materially misleading".
The judge declared: "The PAC must reconsider the matter, no doubt on the basis of a fresh officer's report, and I shall order that no enforcement steps are taken until it has done so."