Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Abolition of RSS – a material consideration

As you may already be aware, the Secretary of State wrote to Council leaders on 27th May drawing attention to the government’s intention “to rapidly abolish Regional Strategies and return decision making powers on housing and planning to local councils”. Consequently, decisions on housing supply (including the provision of travellers sites) will rest with Local Planning Authorities without the framework of regional numbers and plans.

The Secretary of State promises to make a formal announcement soon, but there is a sting in the tail in this letter. The final sentence reads: “I expect Local Planning Authorities and the Planning Inspectorate to have regard to this letter as a material consideration in any decisions they are currently taking.”

So the Secretary of State wishes LPAs and PINS to treat RSS as if it had already been abolished. I have already drawn attention to the uncertain situation that this creates, and there is clearly scope for considerable confusion and debate over the legal implications of this letter. As a planning lawyer, I suppose I should welcome the resulting extra work that this will create, but it can hardly help developers, landowners and their advisers seeking to achieve certainty over their development proposals.


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