Hogan Lovells advises Leonard Jonson and the Stonebridge Community Trust

London, 13 August 2020 – As part of the firm’s focus on racial justice, a Hogan Lovells team of Paul Tonkin (real estate disputes partner) and Nancy Ricardo (trainee),  recently provided pro bono legal advice to Leonard Johnson and the Stonebridge Community Trust (HPCC) Limited (defendants) in relation to a dispute between the defendants and Brent Council (claimants).

The dispute centres around the ownership and the future of the Bridge Park Leisure Centre in Brent. Bridge Park was acquired and built in the 1980s as a result of campaigning by the local black community, led by Leonard Johnson, a hugely influential community leader. It generated national and international attention as an example of a genuine community project run by and for the community and was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales.  

Brent Council claim that, notwithstanding Bridge Park's unique history, it is wholly owned by them and they are entitled to sell it to a residential developer.

The defendants argue that Bridge Park, when the original purchase was made, was intended to be a community owned facility and that the community therefore has a beneficial interest in the land by way of a constructive trust which precludes Brent Council from unilaterally disposing of the land. Alternatively, they argue that the property is held on charitable trust for the benefit of the community.

A spokesperson for Stonebridge Community Trust said: "We thank Hogan Lovells for the firm's  unwavering support for our cause to stop the sale of our community centre. The team's patience and understanding was an integral part to the level of success achieved to date, we feel that this will put us in good stead for the future challenges."

The nine-day trial ended on Thursday 30 July 2020, with judgment expected in September at the earliest. The Judge has encouraged the parties to continue trying to broker a settlement in the meantime. 

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