Judgment means councils can let the abolition of regional strategies influence planning decisions

Housebuilder Cala Homes is to appeal a High Court judgment this week that will allow councils to let the fact the government intends to abolish regional plans influence planning decisions.

Mr Justice Lindblom ruled this week that Cala Homes’ claim for judicial review failed on all counts. Cala had tried to prevent an initiative to allow the government to instruct planning authorities to give “material weight” in their decisions to the impending abolition of regional strategies. The initiative is backed by communities secretary Eric Pickles.
Lindblom said there was “no inconsistency” between regional strategies forming a central element of the planning system, and the concept that local planning authorities can take into account the intention of the government to abolish them.

Cala will seek leave this week to appeal the judgment on the basis that the ruling does not address the substance of its argument. It maintains that the government’s actions go against the 2004 Act that set up regional strategies.

In November Cala Homes won its initial judicial review that the government’s June abolition of regional strategies was unlawful without an Act of Parliament, effectively reinstating the documents temporarily.

This week’s decision makes it harder for housebuilders to try to use the time before the Localism Bill becomes law, as early as November, to squeeze through developments in the teeth of local opposition.

In a statement, Cala Homes said it was “disappointed” by the decision and would appeal.