Friday, 19 November 2010

Told you so

When commenting on the Cala Homes judgment last week and the government’s reaction to it, I pointed out that Steve Quartermain’s letter on behalf of the Secretary of State reiterating the government’s intention to revoke Regional Strategies and asserting again that this should be treated as a material consideration with immediate effect was of dubious legality and could lead to further legal challenges, not least by Cala Homes.

Clearly they and their lawyers thought so too, and they are now seeking a declaration from the High Court that the government’s intention to revoke Regional Strategies is not a material consideration. They are also seeking to have Quartermain’s letter withdrawn pending final determination of the company’s claim or a stay of its effect until that time.

As I observed earlier, the mere fact that the Secretary of State and his minions would like his intention to scrap Regional Strategies to be treated as a material consideration in the determination of current planning applications and appeals does not make it a material consideration in law. That is a matter for the courts, and so it is perfectly right and proper that Cala Homes should seek a ruling from the High Court on this point.

Meanwhile, as we have seen, the guidance issued to planning inspectors is much more sensible, and pays due regard to Section 38(6) of the 2004 Act. When reporting on that advice I gave credit to someone in DCLG for having had a rare attack of common sense. I should have known better - that advice clearly came from within PINS itself. It was always inherently unlikely that anyone in DCLG would be so sensible.


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