On the 10th November The Honorable Mr Justice Sales handed down judgment in the case of Cala Homes and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Cala had taken a judicial review of the SoS's decision to revoke Regional Strategies (RS) through his letter to all Local Planning Authorities on 6th July 2010.
The judge found in favour of Cala and declared the revocation unlawful on the two grounds of 1) the SoS not having the power to abolish RSs as a whole through the use of his revocation powers and 2) the fact that the SoS had not undertaken any level of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the effect of amending the development plan concerned through the revocation of the RS. (please click here to view the judgment)
Please click here to view briefing note with more details of the case and its implications prepared for HBF by Karen Cooksley, Partner of Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP.
Please click here to view the HBF Press Release which you will note plays down somewhat this potentially embarrassing situation for the Government. This is because while the decision will not stop the Government changing the planning system (as already indicated by both Eric Pickles and Bob Neill MP in response to the judgment) it will mean that the transition between the existing system and the new, localism based planning process will need to be managed more sensitively and pragmatically than merely removing a vital part of the current structure. In this context we will, of course, wish to work with the Government over the coming months as the building blocks of the new system are developed through the Localism Bill (due to be introduced to Parliament later this month) and ensuing regulations and guidance.
The CLG chief planner has written to all local planning authorities with the Governments view of the implications of the decision. The letter can be viewed here.
If you have any queries regarding the judgment, its implications or the HBF response please contact HBF Planning Director Andrew Whitaker - Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 0207 960 1600.