Hackney Council fought-off an attempt by a Stamford Hill school to have a long-running legal action thrown out court using evidence that magistrates branded as a "red herring". In another case a planning inspector doubted the evidence of witnesses.
Blood and Property reported on another hearing in February in which the council accused witnesses of lying about the date when building work took place.
The council said: "A commital hearing at the Magistrates Court (checking date) was in relation to a breach of enforcement notice to close the school operating at 91 Amhurst Road that was served on the defendent Gilmoor Benevolent Fund."
The council said: "The court found that a lot of the evidence referred to was a “red herring” and there was clearly evidence to support that there was a case to answer and the case was subsequently committed to the crown court for trial. The defence also made it clear that they require all witnesses to attend court to give evidence. Date for a hearing has been listed for 08 May 2012, 9.30am, at Snaresbrook Crown Court."
The Gilmoor Benevolent Fund has funds valued at more than £80 million.
Lack of precision
In another case in February the Council fought off another appeal by a Stamford Hill school at 71 Amhurst Park. Again the planning inspector did not believe the evidence of the witnesses called:
"The appellant called several witnesses but none was precise about the year when the use of the appeal property as a school commenced. None could explain why the date from which the school leased the property or Amhurst Park Holdings acquired it was so much later than the unspecified date around 2000 when they said they could recall the use as a school commencing. Nor could they recall there being a doctor’s surgery on the ground floor of the premises, which, if their recollections about the commencement of the school use were correct, would have been still operating in 2000, with patients sharing the same front entrance as would be used by schoolchildren."
The Planning Inspector denied the appeal: "Given the lack of precision of the evidence presented by the witnesses and the strong contrary evidence presented by the Council, I am not satisfied, on the balance of probability, that the use of the appeal premises as a school commenced before 27 August 2000. In fact, I think it is highly probable that the use commenced some years after that date. I conclude that the appeal on ground (d) should fail."
The property, 71 Amhurst Park, is used as part of the larger Benois Jerusalem Girls School which occupies four adjoining former dwellings at 75-81 Amhurst Park. However 73 Amhurst Park, which lies between the main school and the appeal property, is in residential use, divided into flats. The property on the other side of the appeal premises, 69 Amhurst Park, is a single family dwelling. The inspector said it did not matter that residents of these properties had not made complaints.