Charity Commission announces a Statutory Inquiry into Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators (16/09/2016)
The Charity Commission has stepped in to investigate the possible mismanagement and misconduct of the Trustees of the WPCC when selling easement rights for thr access road at Putney Lower Common in August 2014. FofPC welcomes this deveopment and will be following the progress of the inquiry in the coming weeks.
To read the full press statement go to www.gov.uk/government/news/new-charity-investigation-wimbledon-and-putney-commons-conservators
Charity Trustees have lost £1.5m. Now they must act to recover it.
FofPC has started a change.org petition. Please sign it now. It calls for Prue Whyte, Chairman of the WPCC to:
1) Accept the Montagu Evans LLP 'Qualified Surveyors Report' (QSR) confirming that the grant of the Easement on the proposed terms was not in the best interests of the Charity and that the value of the access in 2012 was at least £1.9m;
2) Acknowledge that the losses occurred as a direct result of the failure by Trustees to follow the Charity Commission'sn written instructions;
3) Immediately suspend Sir Ian Andrews, Derek Frampton and Dr Ros Taylor, the three Conservators who were in post in August 2014 when the access rights were undersold;
4) Suspend the Chief Executive Simon Lee from all matters relating to Putney Hospital as he signed a letter to the Charity Commission in January 2015 saying the Charity had adhered to the Charities Act when selling the access rights, despite this being untrue.
5) Instruct solicitors to conclude an immediate legal review of how to recoup the losses to the charity.
23 August 2016
21 August 2016
Friends of Putney Common to be revived
Friends of Putney Common has been suspended since April 2015 when two people associated with the group were elected as Conservators of Wimbledon and Putney Common. We had hoped that the successful election of John Cameron and Nicholas Evans in April 2015 among the five new Trustees would mean that the many issues related to the new development at Putney Hospital, including the undersale of the site's access by WPCC, would be resolved. But that was not to be. Nick resigned in November 2015, although John continues. Prue Whyte is now Chairman, and five Conservators including Sir Ian Andrews, Derek Falmer, Dr Ros Whyte (the three appointed Trustees who have been in place for some years), Prue Whyte and Keith Luck continue to support the cover-up of the way the charity acted when underselling the access at Putney Common. Shirley Gillbe and John Cameron remain an ignored minority.
FofPC will be launching a petition through change.org shortly calling on the Conservators to take decisive action to resolve these longstanding problems and to recoup the £1.5m shortfall on what the access was worth, as evidenced in a Qualified Surveyors Report by Montagu Evans LLP received by the board in September 2015.
27 February 2015
Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators - Election Results
The Electoral Reform Society have released the certified results of the 2015 election. We are very pleased to confirm that both John Cameron (3,999 votes) and Nicholas Evans (3,619 votes) were elected. The other three candidates confirmed as elected Trustees (Conservators) are Shirley Gillbe (4,734), Prue Whyte (3,193) and Keith Luck (3.010). Both the two existing Conservators who were standing for election were not elected: Andrew Simon (2,038) and Robin Touquet (2,744). The full results are posted beow.
2015 Wimbledon and Putney Commons Election Results
13 February 2015
Statement by Conservators criticised for prejudicing fair election
Complaints have been made to both the Wimbledon and Putney Commons CEO and the Electoral Reform Society over a statement issued which relates to Putney Lower Common and Spencer benches. This has been posted on the home page of the WPCC website. The "Former Putney Hospital Site & Spencer Public House Frequently Asked Questions" in the view of FofPC seeks to justify the actions of the existing Conservators and presents a slanted and selective list of "facts". We have therefore issued both a press release and a fuller statement to clarify these contentious issues.
FofPC statement 13-02-2015
FofPC press release 13-02-2015
1 February 2015
Elections for Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators (Trustees) - 5 Feb to 25 Feb 2015
In early February residents who live within three-quarters of a mile of Wimbledon Common and within the old parish of Putney (which includes part of Roehampton and Putney Heath) will receive ballot papers to elect five new Trustees for the charity.
The current Conservators have failed to protect the commons and encouraged encroachment. Only two existing Conservators have decided to run in the new election - Andrew Simon, who signed the easement agreement in secret allowing the Council to build roads on Putney Common and Robin Touquet who supported that decision.
There are 17 candidates in all running in the election. Both John Cameron and Nicholas Evans have put their names forward to become Conservators. They have issued a leaflet explaining their views which can be downloaded below.
'Help protect our commons ...' leaflet
11 January 2015
FoI request reveals boundary map changes
Following a Freedom of Information request to Wandsworth Council made by John Cameron, FofPC has obtained a file showing the "adjustments" made to the original Ordnance Survey map of the Commons boundaries. This is available below. We continue to have grave concerns that this second version of the map is still not correct, and this has been borne out by using SatNav methods to re-check distances three-quarters of a mile from the boundary of Wimbledon Common using the definition in the 1871 Act. It is also notable that there is no consistency in the changes marked on the map around the edges of the three-quarters of a mile limit, which would seem to indicate that they have been made selectively. The differences between v1 and v2 of the map are indicated by red markers changing to blue on the map. FofPC has asked the Conservators for a clear definition of the different measurement methods used for the two maps but has not received a reply.
Revised OS map showing changes to boundary of levy-paying area
15 December 2014
Letter from John Cameron challenges Conservarrs to report themselves to the Charity Commission
Following the publication of a highly critical "Governance Review" (see below) John Cameron has written a detailed letter to the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators calling on them to follow Charity Commission regulations and report themselves.
Letter from John Cameron 15-12-2014
9 December 2014
Independent report calls for major changes to Conservators' Governance and management
The new CEO of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators has commissioned an independent report on the Governance of WPCC which was discussed and approved at their monthly board meeting held last night (8 December 2014). This thorough review by expert consultants' Dorothy Dalton and Anne Moynihan lays bare the long-term shortcomings of the way the WPCC has been run. FofPC has therefore published the full 19 page report which can be downloaded below.
Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators Governance Review 2014
25 November 2014
Letter from WPCC's Solicitors Gregsons to John Cameron and Nick Evans 21 November 2014
John Cameron and Nick Evans have received a letter from the Conservatrors' solicitor Gregsons which sets out their somewhat surprising views concerning the effect of the new Ordnance Survey map of the levy-paying boundary. Yes, it's different from previous maps. But no, the previous map was not inaccuracte. No resident who should not have been charged as a Levy-payer incorrectly can claim a refund from WPCC. The matter is the responsibility of the relevant local authorities concerned. The letter also sets out the legal position relating to possible refunds. It also asks John and Nick to please stop writing to their CEO, he's very busy.
The letter is published here following FofPC's usual policy of making everything public. We do not expect to stop requesting explanations of the Conservators' actions. It should also be noted that complaints regarding the actions of the charity have been filed with the Charity Commisssion.
The current text on the WPCC's website concerning thr "anomolies" reads as follows: "While we have published this new map, there may be some anomolies in respect of properties on the periphery of the Levy-paying area, some of which may no longer fall within the boundary or have not been included previously. We are currently discussing with the relevant Councils how to resolve these anomalies and will publish a full list of prperties that are included in the near future."
Gregsons letter 21-11-2014
11 November 2014
Freedom of Informtion request shows that Commons' Conservators ignored valuers advice. WPCC Chairman describes the Conservators as "an anachronism" and caves in to political pressure to sell access too cheaply.
Following repeated requests from FofPC to WPCC to release documents related to the granting of an easement at Putney Hospital they have today provided selected papers. Among these is a minute of a meeting held in July 2008 which clearly shows that the Chairman David Devons was advised that the value of the "ransom strip" access at Putney Hospital was around 50% of the development land value. This would have been many £millions. Other files also show that the Conservators' board failed to discuss the decision to accept just £1 for the access to the school and only £349,999 for the block of luxury flats in any detail. FofPC has today issued a press release explaining why the Conservators are yet again shown conclusively to have failed residents and their own charity.
FofPC Press Release 11-11-2014
Minute of meeting held on 31 July 2008
Minute of meeting held on 31 July 2008 with FofPC comments and explanation
Board minutes from February 2012
Board papers from February 2012
25 October 2014
When is Common land actually Common?
It would seem to FofPC that the Conservators have lost touch with the spirit of the 1871 Act. Not only were they willing to sell rights to Wandsworth Council to build roads on Putney Common (see earlier postings here), but it turns out that they have been making other deals which erode the Commons. Such an arrangement was the deal done in the 1970s and amended more recently with the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club to allow them to take part of the Common as a private car park. Here is WPCC's note on why this is entirely legal and above board. Judge for your self.
Note provided to John Cameron on the legal status of the RWGC car park
The 1871 Act reads: "It shall not be lawful for the Conservators, excpet as in this Act expressed, to sell,lease, grant, or in any manner dispose of parts of the Common".
22 October 2014
Conservators' Maladministration of Commons Levy
The Wimbledon and Putney Conservators (WPCC) have relied on inaccurate maps designating the area of Levy-paying residents and Voters as specified in the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act 1871, with amendments (SI 1990/201). This has been going on for years, perhaps as long ago as 1990 and maybe earlier. The new boundary map provided to the WPCC by Ordnance Survey was obtained as a result of pressure from FofPC. Comparisons will now need to be made with local authority Council tax lists in Wandsworth, Merton and Kingston. Richmond upon Thames will need to collect extra Council tax from around 30 properties shown to be in that Borough who will be liable to pay the Levy in the future. Many residents may be due refunds for over-payment made over many years amounting to hundreds of pounds. FofPC has accused the Conservators of maladministration and called for the resignation of David Devons (Chair) and former Chairs' Andrew Simon and John Horrocks.
FofPC Press Release (22 October 2014)
Other WPCC Levy-paying information:
New Ordnance Survey map of Levy-paying area, October 2014
Map and street index derived from 1915 and used in last Election in 2012 (from WPCC website)
Statutory Instrument 1990/201
WPC Act 1871 with amendments
9 October 2014
FofPC challenges decision making at Wimbledon and Putney Common Conservators and files a series of FoI requests
For the last two months, John Cameron and Nick Evans have been filing a series of Freedom of Information requests and letters of enquiry to Simon Lee, Chief Executive of the WPCC over matters relating to the Putney Hospital site. It is FofPC's belief that the following documents should be immediately available to Levy Payers: the valuations provided of the access to the Putney Hospital site; the minutes of the Putney Hospital Committee, and the board papers and other documents relating to the decision to agree easements both with the Wandsworth Primary Care Trust and more recently Wandsworth Borough Council. Unfortunately WPCC have failed to respond to all these fairly straightforward requests, and this has generated considerable concerns over the Trustees actions over a number of years.
The sale of access rights for the school amounting to just £1, and £349,999 for the apartments would seem to be far below what would be expected for sole access to such a major development, and FofPC has therefore questioned why these amounts were agreed by the Conservators acting as the charity's Trustees.
John Cameron has today summarised in a letter to Mr Lee a list of outstanding requests for information and his concerns over the actions of the Trustees which may be viewed below. We understand that this has been passed to Chairman David Devons for his consideration.
Letter from John Cameron to Simon Lee dated Thursday 9 October 2014
1 October 2014
Call for Conservators to publish an up-to-date digital boundary map
of electoral and levy-paying area
It is very much to be regretted that the Conservators have not been able to provide a detailed map indicating the Levy paying area boundaries as well as the elctoral boundary for 2015. A series of meetings have been held to discuss how this might be remedied ahead of the forthcoming election of new Conservators in February 2015. We understand from Sir Ian Andrews that such a map is now in preparartion and will be posted on their website. It will also be posted here as soon as possible.
11 August 2014
Independent view of the Appeal Court Decision
Hugh Craddock, who worked for the DETR and then DEFRA on preparing and implementing access legislation under the Countryside and Rights of Use Act 2000 and also drafted later legislation related to Commons has published a consideration of the recent Court of Appeal decision on his website. Use link below to see this on the "Pannageman Blog".
9 July 2014
Appeal court dismisses FofPC's appeal
It is with regret and disappointment that we announce the finding of the Appeal Court hearing. The Press Release below provides our reaction and confirms our intention to consider a further appeal to the Supreme Court. Come what may we will continue to fight to protect the over-development of Putney Common. The next election to become a Conservator will be held in February 2014, and we intend a group of local people who understand the importance of resisting encroachment will run for election. We will be working to bring that about and to monitor the situation carefully.
Appeal Court decision
Decision Order - 8-7-14-2
Press Release: FofPC 09-07-2014
28 June 2014
Appeal court hearing - Court 72, 10.30am, 30 June 2014
The Appeal hearing has been listed in the High Court, The Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court and Divisional Court) in Court 72. It will be before Lord Justice Rimer, Lord Justice Patten and Lord Justice Kitchen. Our legal team will be Robert McCracken QC and Philip Petchey. It will probably last just one day, and anyone may attend.
23 April 2014
Appeal court hearing fixed for the 30 June 2014
We have just been advised that the Appeal court hearing has been fixed for Monday 30 June 2014. Prior to the hearing the parties to the action - Nicholas Evans for FofPC, the Conservators as Defendant and the Council as Interested Party, will exchange skeleton legal arguments. The actual time on the day and court to be used at the High Court in London will not be known until just before the proceedings. Three Appeal Court judges will be considering whether the earlier Judicial Review finding that the Conservators can allow the Council to build access roads on Putney Common is correct in law. It is expected that the case will take one day.
7 April 2014
FofPC joins with other local community groups and amenity societies (Putney Society, Wandsworth Society, Clapham Junction Action Group) to send a letter to David Cameron calling for an independent review of Wandsworth Council's planning procedures
Friends of Putney Common have been working with other local groups to identify the numerous planning failures of Wandsworth Council. A letter has been sent today (7 April 2014) to the Prime Monister containing a detailed report of the many occasions local and national planning guidelines have been ignored and calling for him to set up an independent review.
Letter to David Cameron with analysis of planning failures
Joint Press Release
3 April 2014
Permission granted for appeal at oral hearing in High Court
We're pleased to report that at an oral hearing in the High Court this morning the judge (Sir Colin Rimer) granted permission for Nicholas Evans, of Friends of Putney Common, to take the case to the Appeal Court. This will be expedited and is likely to be heard before the end of May in front of three judges. He made the point that the proposed development at Putney Hospital, which involved building roads, mounds and bollards as well as a roundabout on Common Land, is not exactly similar to the situation in Wimbledon covered by the 'Housden' agreement, as the roads served a development on neighbouring land.
He also confirmed that the Protective Costs Order of £5,000 will be raised to £7,500. This is the amount, over and above our own legal costs, which we will have to be pay to the Council and Conservators if we lose the case. Similarly the Reciprocal Costs Order should we win was raised from £35,000 to £45,000.
Press Release - FofPC PR 03-04-14
20 March 2014
Appeal Court refuses permission to appeal the High Court decision
Unfortunately the Judge considering FofPC's application to the Appeal Court has refused permission. The grounds on which he did so can be seen in the notice posted below. We will therefore renew the application for consideration by the Court at an oral hearing.
Order refusing permission
27 February 2014
Thamesfield Ward primary school place projections
As has been noted previously the Council revised their own school place deficit figures downward by over 50% in January 2014. Following an FoI request they have now provided the background calculations on which the projection figures are based. As the birth rate in the ward is falling, the need for additional places at reception is being driven by other factors. It is worth noting that the 'child retention rate' used for 2012/13 is 72%, meaning that 28% of all babies born will have moved away by the time they reach school age of 5 years. Current school rolls demonstrate that the need for places currently will be met by current provision. The Housing Trajectory statistics also make clear that new residential development - which must give rise to the deficit in the projections - is clearly located nowhere near Putney Hospital, with the majority of new-build being at the far side of Wandsworth Park in the Riverside Quarter The Council's figures also come with an FofPC health warning: all Council projections made in the last 5 years have exaggerated the number of places needed by a considerable margin.
Wandsworth Council Projections for Primary School Places, 2014
Wandsworth Council Housing Trajectory 2012/13
1 February 2014
Did the Council manipulate the value of the Putney Hospital site by granting approval for a cancelled scheme knowing it would no go ahead?
FoI requests reveal that the Council received a 'Valuation Report and Acquisition Strategy' document in December 2009, but still went ahead in July 2010 and granted the Wandsworth Primary Care Trust planning approval for the scheme which had already cancelled. Why?
Valuation Report and Acquisition Strategy Report (redacted)
15 January 2014
Council halves projected deficit in Thamesfield to less than 1FE - FofPC issues Press Release calling for a re-think of the Putney Hospital scheme
The Council have issued a new Policy Paper (ref 14-11) which consists of a report by the Director of Children's Services on the updated projected need for additional primary and secondary school places in Wandsworth. The Thamesfield ward figures show that the projected deficit has fallen by half since last year, and that the birth rate in Thamesfield is falling. FofPC claim that the justification for building a 2FE school and luxury flats at the old Putney Hospital site is no longer valid and that the whole scheme should be re-thought.
Press Release FofPC 15-01-2014
2 January 2014 and 15 January 2014
FofPC challenges the Council's latest Planning Permission for Putney Hospital
FofPC, having consulted with its solicitors Richard Buxton Environmental and Planning Law, have issued a "Letter Before Action" challenging the vailidity of the Council's planning permission. Councillor Guy Humphries who sits on the Planning Applications Committee voted for the planning permission to be granted and also spoke during the discussion making his support clear. However he is also a member of the Education and Children's Services Committee who have responsibility for the application on the Council's behalf and should not have participated. The letter from FofPC's lawyers clearly demonstrates that he was in breach of planning regulations as it is the case that he had pre-determined his view on the planning application. FofPC calls on the Council to cancel the permission granted in December or be subject to an application for a Judicial Review.
Letter Before Action
Response from Sharpe Pritchard
24 December 2012
FofPC files application to Appeal Court
FofPC's solicitors have filed an application to the Appeal Court reated to the decision taken by Mr Justice Wyn Williams at Judicial Review. This concerns the right of the Conservators to allow the Council to build an access road on Common land.
Application to Appeal Court
20 December 2013
Response to Cllr Tracey's open letter on PutneySW15
FofPC has replied to a recent 'Open Letter' posted by Councillor Kathy Tracey on the PutneySW15 site.
Press Release FofPC 20-12-2013
19 December 2013
FofPC's crowdfunding appeal for funds through JustGiving exceeds £15,000 target
Thank you to everyone for your very generous support.
13 December 2013
Council confirms Planning Permission
The Council have issued a "Decision Notice" confirming the planning permission for the Putney Hospital site. But the fight to stop this inappropriate development continues, with an application to the Appeal Court. A copy of this will appear here shortly.
4 December 2013
London's Evening Standard covers story
Today's edition of the Evening Standard has a story about the campaign to save Putney Common from unnecessary access roads.
Evening Standard 4-12-2013
Make a pledge to the campaign at JustGiving
1 December 2013
FofPC appeal passes £11,000. Open Spaces Society offers support
The 'crowd funding' appeal launched by FofPC has just broken the £11,000 mark. The Open Spaces Society who were involved in the creation of Putney Common back in the 1870's has offered unequivocal support and donated £350. See their press release below.
Open Spaces Society press release
21 November 2013
FofPC launches 'crowdfunding appeal' to save Putney Common
The appeal is to convert residents' support into a substantial fund to save part of Putney Common from being lost forever. We believe there is every chance of reversing the recent decision by Mr Justice Wyn Williams in the High Court and the argument will now be taken to the Court of Appeal. The funds will be used for FofPC's legal expenses. To make a pledge on the JustGiving websire go to: www.justgiving.com/local/project/friendsofputneycommon.
To view the full story go to our Press Release (FofPC PR 21-11-2013).
8 November 2013
FofPC's Judicial review Claim dismissed
The claim made by Nicholas Evans on behalf of FofPC to a Judicial Review held on the 9 October before Mr Justice Wyn Williams has been dismissed. This is regrettable but not entirely unexpected when dealing with a complicated legal issue. However we believe that the judgement is fundamentally flawed and will therefore be taking steps to appeal.
Link to text of Decision Notice
FofPC Press Release 7 November 2013
7 November 2013
Planning Applications Committee Decision
The Council's Planning Application Committee this evening decided to grant permission with conditions for the Putney Hospital site. This was not unexpected. Voting was entirely on Party lines with 6 Conservative Councillors voting for and 2 Labour Councillors voting against. FofPC will be reviewing what action it can take to hold up the development which remains in its view completely inapproriate and over-intensive.
24 October 2013
Open Meeting for Residents - All Saints' Church, Putney Common
The FofPC open meeting for residents was held on the 23 October with over 150 people attending. It was clear from the comments made after a formal presentation by John Cameron and Nick Evans (see below) that a majority of residents are against the Council's proposals. Although invited to do so the Council did not make a presentation and refused to attend. Two Conservators were present, but also declined to present their case for the development which will involve building access roads on Putney Lower Common.
9th of October 2013
Judicial Review in High Court held on the 9 October, 2013
The Judicial Review hearing was held over a single day on Wednesday 9 October before Mr Justice Wyn Williams. He will now consider the facts placed before him by Nicholas Evans (for FofPC) as Claimant, the Wimbledon and Putney Conservators, Defendant and Wandsworth Borough Council, Interested Party. A decision notice will then be provided to all parties. It is not known how ong this will take, but as soon as it is received by FofPC it will be provided on this website.
7th of October 2013
Judicial Review to protect Putney Common?
The Judicial Review into whether or not the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators have the power to grant easement rights to Wandsworth Borough Council to build roads on Putney Common is being held in the High Court on the
9 and 10 October.
FofPC has issued the following press release (FOPC PR 07-10-2013) in advance of the hearing.
30th September 2013
FofPC delivers thousands of leaflets to Thamesfield residents
We have arranged to have a new leaflet setting out some of the reasons why the Council's plans for Putney Hospital should be rejected delivered to residents of Thamesfield. This has a detachable postcard which can be completed and returned to the Council as an objection.
There are three ways you can object to the Council's plans:
ONLINE: Use the following link: http://bit.ly/putney_hospital_objection
EMAIL: Send a personal email to RosalynnClaxton@wandsworth.gov.uk quoting Putney Hospital 2012/0758
POST: Complete the ready addressed postcard, add your comments and put on a stamp
24th October 2013
FofPC to hold an Open Meeting for residents at 7.30pm on Wednesday 23 October 2013
at All Saints Church on Putney Common
We have decided to hold an Open Meeting on Wednesday 23 October to discuss the Council's proposals for the Putney Hospital site. It will be open to all residents and interested parties. The Council and Conservators have been invited to make their case for the development. We will make ours for appropriate development and no roads on the Common. The meeting will go ahead whatever the Judicial Review decides.
See Press Release FofPC PR 24-09-2013 for full details and background information
24th October 2013
Council opens planning website and gives just 21 days until the 17th of October for objections and comments having posted 100's of pages of additional technical information.
To go to the relevant page use the following link: http://bit.ly/putney_hospital_objection
16th of September 2013
Council publishes new Screening Opinion
The Council have issued a new screening opinion forPutney Hospital which states that an Environmental Impact Assessment is not necessary. This can be seen on the WBC Planning Portal for application 2012/0758. They have not yet clarified the consultation that they will be carrying out before the application is put before a Planning Application Committee meeting.
19th of August 2013
High Court lists Judicial Review for 9th & 10th of October
FofPC has had confirmation from the High Court that the Judicial Review will be held over two days on the 9th and 10th of October. Legal Submissions to the Court from the WPCC and Council are expected by the 23rd of August and will be added to this site in due course. FofPC will then have three weeks to respond.
10th of August 2013
Wandsworth Council restarts failed application for Putney Hospital
FofPC learnt on Friday 9 August that Wandsworth Borough Council will bring forward "new information" related to their quashed planning permission to build a 2FE school and flats at Putney Common. On the 5th of August the Planning Department had placed a new application record on their planning portal (ref 2013/3919). However they have now confirmed by email that the application will revert to the previous reference number 2012/0758 and new information will be added.
Press Release FofPC 10-08-2013
8th of August 2013
High Court issues order confirming Judicial Review will be heard before 31st October 2013
Solicitors acting for all parties in the Judicial review have received an order from the High Court confirming that the hearing will be held before the 31st of October. The Defendant (WPCC) and Interested Party (WBC) have until the 23rd of August to file any further evidence. We exoect them to do so. FofPC then has until the 13th of September to respond. In these circumstances it is likely that the Council will file a new application with their Planning Department shortly.
30th of July 2013
Council's solicitors write to Court requesting expedition of Judicial Review.
Sharpe Pritchard, acting for the Council, have written to the High Court asking them to expedite the case. Richard Buxton have replied saying they would agree, as long as the usual time to consider papers from the Defendant and Interested Party is available, and that our Barrister is available.
Letter by Sharpe Pritchard to High Court
Letter by Richard Buxton in response
15th of July 2013
High Court agrees to grant Judicial Review
The friends of Putney Common (FoPC) learnt on Friday (12th of July 2013) that its application for a Judicial Review challenging the legality of easement agreements, allowing the building of a private road on Putney Common, has been granted by the High Court.
Press Release and copy of High Court order
11th of July 2013
New analysis of Wandsworth Council's school places projections for Thamesfield shows a school at Putney Hopsital in the west of the ward is not necessary.
New information released following Freedom of Information requests by Nicholas Evans of Friends of Putney Common show clearly that the Council has been exaggerating the shortfall in primary school places.
"Not only is the Council planning to build private roads on the Common, which is protected by Act of Parliament, it is also intending to build a large primary school where one is not needed. These new figures prove that the new school should be located in SW18, where developers have built over 1,000 new homes, with more planned." Nicholas Evans, Spokeman for FofPC.
Press Release and background files
27th of June 2013
Front page story in the Wandsworth Guardian Thursday 27th of June, 2013
See image above of the Wandsworth Guardian front page. Click on image to make larger.
27th of June 2013
Date for Judicial Review
FofPC's solicitors have confirmed that the Judicial Review papers are in a queue to be reviewed by a Judge. It is difficult therefore to predict when the hearing will happen.
19th of June 2013
Conservators hold their 'Annual Open Meeting'
Each year the Conservators hold an annual open meeting so that levy-paying residents can hear from the Conservators and ask questions. This year that meeting was held on the 19th of June. As a result of FofPC's claim filed with the High Court to challenge the Conservators powers to grant an easement to build roads on Putney Common, FofPC handed out a flier prior to the meeting with a series of key questions for the Conservators to answer. Unfortunately David Devons, Chairman of the Conservators following the resignation of Andrew Strauss, was not keen to provide answers. When questioned by resident John Cameron, a supporter of FofPC and levy-payer, he claimed that if the Judicial Review resulted in a ruling in FofPC's favour, that the Council would issue a Compulsory Purchase Order for the land on the Common despite the 1871 Act. FofPC will seeking clarification of this.
FofPC's flier containing key questions for the Conservators to answer
13th of June 2013
Wandsworth Council announce preferred bidder to run school at Putney Hospital site
Despite having no planning permission to build a school on the Putney Hospital site and FofPC's pending application for a judicial review challenging the building of roads on commons land, the Council have announced a "preferred bidder" to run an Academy there.
The Council issued a Press Release on the 13th of June confirming that Oasis Community Learning, founded by Baptist Minister Steve Chalke in 1984, had been recommended. The selection process used to select Oasis is shrouded in some secrecy. The so-called 'Academy and Free Schools Commission' met on the 10th of January to consider bids for recommending a preferred Academy provider for the Putney school. Their recommendation was considered by the Education and Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the 20th of June and will be on the agenda at the WBC Executive on the 1st of July. Meetings of the A&FSC, Chaired by Baroness Perry and consisting of mainly Conservative Councillors and one Labour, does not hold meetings in public or publish minutes. Although Oasis say that the school would be non-denominational, their guiding principle is that "Oasis is motivated and inspired by the life, message and example of Christ". This has caused some controversy locally where there are already three faith schools nearby.
11th of June 2013
A letter from Emma Smith, who has lived in Putney near the Common for the last 33 years
FofPC has received the following letter from author Emma Smith who has lived in Putney for 33 years and was born in 1923. Her new memoir "As Green as Grass: growing up before, during and after the Second World War " will be published by Bloomsbury on the 15th of August. She writes:
'I would like to draw the attention of all interested bodies to the eminent desirability of developing the site of the derelict ex-Putney Hospital for a much needed old people's residential village. Alternatively, there could be some similar accommodation to benefit local inhabitants, instead of the large primary school and superfluous block of luxury flats currently being planned by Wandsworth Borough Council.
Situated as it is on the very edge of our beautiful, peaceful Common, and with a bowling-green Club immediately adjacent, the site is ideally suited to give pleasure and relaxation to those Putney residents who have reached retirement, whereas it is wholly inappropriate for a variety of reasons, to be the location for a large primary school.
Any comments or suggestions are most welcome.
(signed) Emma Smith'
Any correspondence for Emma can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be passed to her.
1st of June 2013
Awaiting response from the High Court and Conservators Annual Meeting
Following the exchange of documents sent to the High Court we are waiting to receive information on the next steps. As soon as news is received it will be posted here.
The Conservators annual 'Open Day' is being held on the 19th of June from 7.15pm at Christ Church Hall, 2 Cottenham Park Road, SW20 0NB. Hopefully Levy-payers will be able to ask them some searching questions about building roads on the Common.
3rd of May 2013
Response made to the 'Acknowledgement of Service' documents lodged earlier with the High Court (See below, 19th of April 2013 entry)
Following the receipt of the 'Acknowledgement of Service' documents filed with the High Court by Gregsons (on behalf of the Conservators who are the Defendant) and Sharpe Pritchard (on behalf of Wandsworth Borough Council, the Interested Party) the Solicitors acting for the Claimant (Nicholas Evans) have sent a response to the High Court. This was done as a result of new issues raised by the Defendant and Interested Party that required a legal response.
To see the latest documents go to the FofPC and WPCC page on this website where they may be viewed and downloaded.
19th of April 2013
'Acknowledgements of Service' received from solicitors acting for both the Conservators (the Defendant) and the Council (the Interested Party)
As expected the Conservators and Council have responded to the application for a judicial review lodged by FoPC with the High Court on the 24th of March. Both sets of documents are very long and detailed. Our lawyers are expected to issue a response to the Court shortly - particularly with regard to the challenge they both make over delay (the suggestion that FoPC was too slow to issue a claim) and the application for a Costs Protection Order under the Aarhus Convention.
To see the documents go to the FofPC and WPCC page on this website where they may be viewed and downloaded.
24th of March 2013
FofPC files a claim in the High Court for a judicial review to prevent the building of private roads on Putney Common adjacent to Putney Hospital
On Friday 24th of March a claim for judicial review was filed in the High Court. This document, with related exchanges between solicitors acting for FofPC, Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators and Wandsworth Council can be seen on the FofPC and WPCC page on this website where they may be viewed and downloaded.
We have issued a press release which contains a statement by Nick Evans as spokeman of FoPC and further information.
23rd of March 2013
Planning consents quashed
The 'Consent Order' for the quashing of the WBC Planning Consent granted in October 2012 together with the related screening opinion has been sealed by the High Court.
9th of March 2013
Solicitors acting for Conservators respond to FofPC's 'Letter Before Action'
Gregsons, the solicitors acting for the Conservators, have replied to the Letter before Action sent by FofPC. This was received on the 4th of March. Richard Buxton will consider the letter and it is likely that FofPC will take the matter to the High Court. As soon as all options have been considered the letter will be posted on this website.
1st of March 2013
Solictors acting for Conservators request more time to respond to FofPC's
'Letter Before Action'
FofPC's solicitors Richard Buxton Environmental and Planning Law have received a letter from Gregsons (WPCC's solicitors) requesting that the deadline for a response to the Letter Before Action sent to them on the 18th of February should be extended to the 14th of March. FofPC has agreed to this request. To see the exchange of letters see below. We have also added a link to the Letter Before Action to save you scrolling down.
Letter from Gregsons to Richard Buxton 01/03/13
Reply by Richard Buxton 01/03/13
18th of February 2013
Residents start High Court challenge to protect Putney Common from unlawful road building
Solicitors representing FofPC have today (18th of February 2013) sent a 'letter before action' in accordance with the pre-action protocol for judicial review to the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators (WPCC), with copies to the London Borough of Wandsworth. They have 14 days to respond.
The letter sets out the reasons for maintaining that WPCC do not have the power to grant the proposed deed of easement allowing Wandsworth Borough Council to build private access roads on common land which facilitates the inappropriate development of a 2FE primary school with a playground on the roof for 420 pupils and 24 luxury flats. FofPC have invited WPCC to terminate the unlawful agreement, and unless they do so will seek a declaration in the High Court.
FofPC Press Release
Letter before action (including attachments)
12th of February 2013
The demolition of part of the Nurses Home yesterday was done because sections of the building had been declared unsafe by the Council. The work has therefore stopped, and the full demolition has yet to begin. Of course the reason the structure had to be declared unsafe was because of the shoddy preparation work already done. Who by? The Council.
11th of February 2013
Demolition of hospital begins
Demolition contractors Cuddy have begun to knock down the nurses home. No attempt to alleviate the dust kicked up by their machines - but sleet/rain seems to be helping. Cottages in Commondale feel the vibrations from the crashing bricks and masonry.
5th of February 2013
Consent Order sent to High Court
The Consent Order quashing the permission at Putney Hospital was sent to the High Court last week by our solicitor's Richard Buxton. It normally takes 2/3 weeks to be signed off.
30th of January 2013
New Twitter account - @FofPC
Follow us on Twitter and send us your thoughts on the campaign.
25th of January 2013
FoPC to take legal action against the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators
Following the receipt of a letter from WPCC's solicitors Gregsons which confirms that they will continue with the agreements made with Wandsworth Council to build unlawful roads on Putney Common, FoPC will now move forward to mount a legal challenge in the courts, the first stage of which is likely to be a 'Pre-action Protocol Letter'.
FoPC press release (issued 25th January 2013)
To view Gregsons letter and other legal exchanges go to 'FoPC and WPCC' page
21st of January 2013
Conservators given 14 days to yield over Putney Hospital development
FoPC have given the Conservators 14 days to reconsider their road access easements on Putney Common agreed with Wandsworth Council. FoPC have demonstrated legally that granting rights to build roads on common land goes far beyond the powers granted under the 1871 Act, which protects the commons from development. If the Conservators continue with their present course FoPC will commence legal action in the High Court to ensure that the Commons are protected from the unlawful sale of the access. It is likely that the ection will be through a judicial review.
View the FoPC Press release.
See the 'FoPC and WPCC' page to view and download legal exchanges.
15th of January 2013
FoPC receives letter from Conservators solicitor Gregsons
FoPC has at last received a response to the legal advice prepared by Philip Petchey sent to them on the 7th of November 2012. The letter from Gregsons is dated 11th of January and arrived through the post. It is 6 pages long and includes a "bundle" of 13 documents. This has been forwarded to our own legal advisors. We will be publishing a response shortly, but it is clear that the Conservators have not changed their current position and therefore it may be necessary for FoPC to take further legal action at some stage.
In the bundle there is a copy of a letter dated 21 April 2008 written by the then Chair of WPCC David Devons (now Vice Chair) to Phil Hope MP, a Cabinet Office Minister regarding a possible Statutory Instrument to alter the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act 1871 to allow the granting of easements. In fact this was never done. But in his letter it is notable that he says the following:
"In the leading judgement [the much quoted Housden judgement in the Appeal Court], Mummery LJ refers to the right to pass over 'only a narrow strip of Commons' (para 25) and to 'the small defined Access Way' (para 26). Mummery LJ gave no consideration to the very different situation of the Putney Hospital site on Putney Lower Common (which also belongs to the Conservators) where the Primary Care Trust (PCT) wishes to build an extended access road on the Common alongside the site. This access road is neither a narrow nor a small strip of the Commons. There is therefore some doubt as to whether the Conservators could validly grant the PCT an easement over the proposed road, which is essential for the planned Primary Care Centre."
In our view Mr Devons was absolutely right in 2008, and nothing has changed in 2013.
9th January 2013
Council issues revised Paper 13-17 following pressure from FoPC
The Council have corrected their Paper No. 13-17 (revised). It will be discussed at the next Planning Application Committee on the 14th of January.
7th January 2013
Incorrect statement in WBC's 'Information report' ref Paper No.13-17
FoPC has written to Seema Manchanda, pointing out that the following statement contained in paper 13-17 for the next Planning Application Committee meeting is incorrect: "The draft Consent Order has been signed by both parties and awaits approval by the High Court." In fact the draft of the Consent Order has not yet been agreed by FoPC's solicitor and therefore the order has yet to be sent to the High Court for approval. Nor have 'reasonable legal expenses' been agreed.
5th January 2013
WBC Planning Applications Committee to discuss 'Information Report' at 14th January meeting
Wandsworth Council's 'Assistant Director Planning and Environmental Services' (Seema Manchanda) has prepared a summary information report on the decision to quash both the EIA Screening (2011/5646) and the conditional planning permission regarding the former Putney Hospital site (2012/0758).
Here are some questions arising from this report that members of the PAC should want answered:
1) Why did Ms Manchanda completely discount the earlier solicitors letters from FoPC warning that the lack of an EIA would be unlawful?
2) Why in an answer to a question from a Councillor about the need for an EIA made at the meeting on the 19th of September, did Ms Manchanda reply misleadingly that an EIA was not necessary because the later reports covered all the necessary environmental issues? Surely she was aware that none of these existed when the screening opinion was prepared?
3) The information report states that on the 14th of November 2012 their Leading Counsel advised that the approach taken by the Council in adopting its screening opinion was considered lawful - ON THE BASIS OF THE INFORMATION THEN AVAILABLE (caps inserted). What information was being withheld from Counsel at that time? It appears that Counsel was not fully briefed. The FoPC did not provide any further information at a later stage, so what led him to reverse his advice on the 28th of November when WBC agreed to quash their own conditional planning permission and related screening opinion?
4) Does the Transport Assessment referenced in the screening opinion exist at all? If not, why not? If not, the probity of the officials involved is called into question. Why can't officials provide copies of the information cited in the screening opinion presented to the PAC?
1st January 2013
Happy New Year
John Cameron has written a review of 2012 coupled with a Putney Hospital quiz which has been published on the Putney Forum. Well worth a read for its detailed analysis of how Wandsworth Borough Council has behaved (or misbehaved) in 2012. Let's hope they come to their senses in 2013.
23 December 2012
See article by Jamie Henderson in the latest Wandsworth Guardian.
21st of December
Dramatic scenes as the London Air Ambulance scrambles to another accident in the Lower Richmond Road on Monday 17th December. A safe road for children to cross in the rush hour? We beg to differ.
13th of December 2012
Wandsworth Council agrees to quash the planning permission for the Putney Hospital redevelopment
FoPC has obtained an undertaking from the solicitors representing Wandsworth Borough Council to quash the planning permission granted on the 29th of October. This comes as a result of the action taken to challenge the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment. View the FoPC Press Release and the letter from Sharpe Pritchard.
6th of December 2012
FoPC makes complaint to Charity Commission re actions taken by Conservators
Following a serious complaint made to the body which regulates the WPCC a letter was received from the Charity Commission explaining what action they will be taking to ensure that the Trustees of Putney Common act responsibly.
View the Charity Commission letter.
30th November 2012
Latest news on challenge to lack of EIA - exchange of letters between solicitors representing FoPC and WBC
To avoid an 'Environmental Impact Assessment' (EIA) in January 2012 the Council provided itself with a 'screening opinion report' in which they justified their unusual decision not to undertake a full assessment of the environmental risks involved in their proposed development of flats and a 2FE school adjacent to Putney Common on the old Putney Hospital site.
View the screening opinion produced by the Council.
FoPC obtained a detailed opinion from Barrister Philip Petchey which demonstrated that the screening opinion was not valid, and therefore the planning approval unlawful. As the Council had previously brushed aside objections to the lack of an EIA, the Friends have begun the process which will lead to a judicial review. The first step was to send a 'Pre-action Protocol Letter' from FoPC's solicitor explaining the reasons behind the challenge to their actions. This letter was sent on the 13th of November and gave WBC 14 days to respond
View the 'Pre-action' letter.
In the screening opinion the Council included the following statement: "A transport assessment of the proposed development concludes that the proposals should not result in any significant additional traffic on the local highway than previously experienced. There should therefore be no significant traffic impact as a result of the proposal".
On the 27th of November a reply from Sharpe Pritchard was received.
It was something of a surprise therefore that in their defence of their actions they state in this letter: "When adopting its screening opinion, the Council had not been provided and therefore did not have regard to any formal transport assessment submitted for or on behalf of the applicant for planning permission. The reference within the report which led to the screening opinion to a "transport assessment" is directed at an officer's assessment as to the transport implications of the proposed development". This assessment was not included with their letter.
FoPC's solicitors (Richard Buxton Environmenal and Planning) have requested a copy of the "assessment" urgently.
28th November a letter was sent from Richard Buxton to Sharpe Pritchard:
14th November 2012
Wandsworth Council's planning permission for Putney Hospital unlawful because of the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment based on a flawed traffic assessment. FoPC's solicitors issue a 'judicial review pre-action protocol letter'
Following advice from Philip Petchey of FTB Chambers instructed by the Pro Bono Unit a letter was sent by solicitors Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law on the 14th of November calling on WBC to revoke the planning permission (ref 2012/0758).
View the FoPC Press Release.
View the Pre-action Protocol letter.
8th November 2012
FoPC obtains new legal advice demonstrating that building roads on the Common is unlawful and issues statement calling on WPCC not to execute the deed of easement with WBC
The following letter was sent to Andrew Simon, Chair of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators on the 7th of November. View the legal advice.
Dear Mr Simon,
This letter is addressed to you as Chair of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators and your colleagues on the WPCC board of trustees.
Following the exchange of letters between our respective solicitors, Friends of Putney Common have sought further legal advice from Mr Philip Petchey of FTB Chambers who was instructed on our behalf by the Pro Bono Unit. He was asked to advise us on the legality of the agreement between the WPCC and Wandsworth Borough Council dated 14th of February 2012.
As you will be aware from previous correspondence we have also obtained an opinion from Mr Clive Moys of Radcliffe Chambers covering the same matter.
In both cases we wished to establish whether the Conservators have acted within the powers granted by the 1871 WPC Act when granting an easement to Wandsworth Borough Council to build an accessway and a turnaround on Putney Lower Common. The advice given to FoPC by both Barristers clearly states that WPCC do not have such powers.
For your information we are attaching a complete copy of the advice provided by Mr Petchey. We would refer you not only to the full legal argument contained in Mr Petchey's advice but in particular to paragraphs 92 and 93. He states the position, with which we are in complete agreement, that it is always to be hoped that legal disputes can be resolved without recourse to the Courts. He also suggests that the Conservators do not execute the deed of easement while a careful reassessment of your position is carried out.
Should the Conservators decide not to take such action and allow matters to proceed as they now stand we regret that it will be necessary for the Friends of Putney Common to take the matter further through formal legal proceedings.
A spokesman for FoPC issued the following statement today:
"We now expect the Conservators to follow the legal advice we have provided to them and not execute the deed of easement allowing the Council to build a road system on the Common. The access, barriers and coach turnaround are undoubtedly in contravention of the WPC 1871 Act.
FoPC have now obtained two separate legal opinions; both clearly demonstrated that the WPCC are acting beyond their statutory powers. The Conservators must now decide to accept that the agreement with Wandsworth Borough Council is unlawful and agree to bring it to an end.
The expansion of the proposed development on to Putney Common is being forced by the over intensive development approved by Wandsworth. Although some 800 local residents objected to the application, including the unlawful expansion on to the Common, they were ignored by both Wandsworth Planning Committee and the Commons Conservators. The Conservators primary role is to protect the Common, not to allow roads to be built on it.
Should the Conservators decide to ignore their legal responsibilities the next step will inevitably involve an application to the courts to declare the easement unlawful. The Conservators will be well aware that their actions are unlawful, and we call on them to face up to this reality now, rather than unnecessary legal action.
Having lain semi-derelict for some 15 years, a solution for the site must be found as a matter of urgency, and not be allowed to become mired in lengthy court proceedings."
31 October 2012
Permission for development granted
Wandsworth Borough Council have granted themselves permission for the development. View the planning consent document.
16th of October 2012
FoPC issues 'Discussion paper' with full analysis of Thamesfield primary school requirements
A new Discussion paper by Nick Evans analyses the requirement for additional primary places in Thamesfield. This shows that there is no rise in the birth rate in the ward between 2006 and 2016 and that the demand is being driven by housing developments over 1.8 miles from the Putney Hospital site and elsewhere in Putney. View the Discussion Paper.
16th of October 2012
London Mayor not to intervene even though 60% of site is Metropolitan Open Land
Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor responsible for planning and Chief of Staff to Boris Johnson has written to Wandsworth Council advising that he will not intervene to refuse planning approval, and will leave it to WBC to decide on whether to proceed. View the letter from the Mayor's office.
10th October 2012
Long-term planning for schools in Putney and Roehampton - Putney Society meeting
The Putney Society has arranged a meeting to be held at St Mary's Church, Putney Bridge at 7.30pm on the 25th of October with Councillor Kathy Tracey as guest speaker. FoPC hopes as many people as possible who have doubts about the proposed plans for the old Putney Hospital site will go along and ask questions.
23rd of September 2012
New FoPC press release corrects misleading statements issued by WBC
Following the publication of a WBC newsrelease on their website which claims that land will be returned to the common following the approval of the 2012/0758 planning application, FoPC has issued a press release which clarifies the actual position. View the FoPC Press Release. See the "Who owns what" page to view plans.
20th of September 2012
Planning Permission granted
The Wandsworth Borough Council Planning Applications committee granted approval to application 2012/0758 yesterday, taking little notice of the 800+ objections from residents and others. The approval was granted by a majority show of hands with two Councillors voting against. At the beginning of the discussion Thamesfield Councillor James Maddan spoke briefly against the motion and Michael Ryder in favour.
The next stage in the fight to see an appropriate development on this key gateway to Putney will involve legal reviews of both the access roads but also other planning issues such as the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment.
19th of September 2012
Justine Greening unable to chair FoPC residents October meeting which has been postponed
The meeting to discuss the alternatives and planning application for the controversial Putney Hospital site, (scheduled for October 15th at All Saints Church) was unexpectedly postponed yesterday, when the Chair, Justine Greening MP confirmed that she could no longer attend, “due to other commitments”.
Justine has apologised for the postponement and the inconvenience which it may cause to residents. FoPC’s concerns regarding the unlawful planning application are unaffected, and applications for judicial reviews of the unlawful application and sale of common land will be submitted before the end of the year.
While the outcome of the judicial process is likely to take several months longer, it is hoped that the postponed meeting will take place in January 2013. The meeting will allow residents to review the various alternatives for the Putney Hospital site and to quiz Thamesfield Councillors and Wandsworth officials on what FoPC believe is an ill considered and over intensive scheme. Confirmation of the new date will be made shortly, it is expected the venue will be unchanged.C's
12th of September 2012
Application 2012/0758 to be discussed at Planning Applications Committee 19th September 2012
The Council has announced that the application will be discussed at the next PAC at 7.30pm on Wednesday 19th of September. The report by the Borough Planner recommends approval despite the 630 objections received so far. The can be viewed. Pages 64 to 144 refer.
A spokesman for FoPC said today "It is no surprise that the Council should want to rush this planning application through the committee or that the Borough Planner should recommend approval despite the growing number of objections from residents. Ms Manchanda, the Borough Planner, has taken such a blinkered view of the objections that the report is a classic of its sort - shortsighted, misleading and inaccurate in so many ways. But perhaps the most notable feature is the almost complete absence of an answer to FoPC's legal challenges to the WPCC/WBC unlawful agreements to build roads on the Common, or the lack of an EIA. We expect the Committee to rubber stamp the approval on the 19th Sept, but hope they will see sense before that happens. We expect to lodge a request for a judicial review as soon as a decision is made."
2nd of September 2012
First findings from the FoPC survey which asked respondents what they would prefer to be built on the Putney Hospital site show that 34% would accept a smaller school without encroachment on the Common, 25% support a retirement village/homes for the elderly, 21% that the site should be left open, and 12% that it be used for affordable housing.
31st August 2012
230 new objections registered on Wandsworth's Planning website
Following the wide distribution of an objection postcard from FoPC setting out the objections to the Council's proposals 230 people from all over Putney have sent in detailed objections. Unfortunately the Council's Planning Department have registered these with a single entry under 'Friends of Putney Common' and have not given any details of who has objected, what they are objecting about and the date of receipt. A number of residents have protested at this lack of transparency and inappropriate behaviour.
The Total number of objections registered now tops 750 (19th Sept).