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Court held that a local authority was entitled when exercising its appropriation power to seek to strike a balance between comparative public needs

Related Member(s):
David Wolfe QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Education Law, Environmental Law and Natural Resources, Local Government Law, Public Law
Court:

The Court considered the legality of exercise of powers to appropriate open land for educational use under the Local Government Act 1972, s 122(1).

Held: following authority, whether land is no longer required for a particular purpose, meaning no longer needed in the public interest for that purpose, is a question for the local authority, subject to Wednesbury principles. The authority was entitled when exercising its appropriation power to seek to strike a balance between comparative public needs. It must be open to an authority in balancing such comparative needs to conclude that, as one set of needs could satisfactorily be met by new arrangements, those needs no longer required the land to be held for its current purpose. On the facts, the defendant had neither addressed the wrong question (ie considered if the land was needed as set aside for particular sports, as opposed to, whether it was needed as public open space) nor irrationally determined the balancing exercise of competing public interest needs.

(Obiter) The judge also added, at para 89, that even if he felt that the Council’s decisions had been flawed he would not “have been minded to grant any relief . . . The effect of any relief would undoubtedly bring to a halt a scheme for the expansion of [a] school which is well advanced and in respect of which . . . considerable public resources have been spent”.

David Wolfe QC was involved in this case.