R (on the application of Coleman) v London Borough of Barnet [2012] EWHC 3725 (Admin)

Case No: CO/5670/2012

Date

21 December 2012

Link to judgment

R (on the application of Coleman) v London Borough of Barnet [2012] EWHC 3725 (Admin)

Discrimination grounds

Age & Disability

Summary of case

The Claimant was a disabled man cared for at home by his mother. He had with many other local people benefitted from visiting a local garden centre. In 2011 this was closed and was sold to a Trust (established under the Government’s ‘free schools’ programme). The Claimant challenged the application for planning permission for a free school on the site and claimed that  the site should be used to provide a recreational and educational facility for the local community.

The Claimant considered that the Council had not discharged its equality duty  when it considered the development proposal. He challenged the adequacy of the Council’s consultation and assessment process and, in particular, submitted that an authority must have due regard to the equality duty for each protected characteristic, and for each sub-category within that characteristic.

Outcome

The Council’s decision to award planning permission had been granted following a lengthy consultation process which specifically acknowledged the implications of the proposals on their equality duty as one of the main planning issues. The final report granting permission for the development noted the Council’s obligations but ultimately stated that ’the benefits to the wider community of the provision of new educational facilities outweigh the adverse impact on those with protected characteristics.’

 The Court rejected the claims that the Council had failed to discharge its equality duty. The Court considered that there was no need for the Council to go beyond the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. The Council was aware of its duty and it was clear that a balancing exercise had been undertaken and that regard had been given to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.