Another round in the battle which could go by the name of Cala Homes

Another round in the battle which could go by the name of Cala Homes

Published:

Author: Melanie Grimshaw

As Mr Justice Ouseley observed, in Stevenage Borough Council v SoS for CLG [2011] EWHC: '...this is another round in the battle which could go by the name of Cala Homes'

The Stevenage case raised two questions:

  • whether an inspector examining a Core Strategy should take into account the Government's intention to revoke regional strategies
  • whether development plan documents (DPDs) are to conform with an extant regional strategy at all stages, not just at the point of submission for public examination

In the judgment, consistent with the Cala Homes case in the Court of the Appeal, Mr Justice Ouseley said: "...the local authority in developing its development plan documents is entitled to take a view on the ways in which a regional strategy may be evolving away from the immediately current version and by the same reasoning is entitled to take a view on its prospective revocation in deciding how to have regard to it.

"The statutory scheme gives flexibility at earlier stages in the plan-making process, which it removes at the stage of submission for examination."

He concluded that, '...there was no justification for importing a lack of flexibility into the earlier stage'.

Current position

Following the Stevenage case, it is open to local planning authorities (LPAs) in preparing their DPDs to have regard to the Secretary of State's intention to revoke regional strategies.

Obviously, following the enactment of the Localism Act, that intention is gathering more weight. Notably, however, the relevant provision in the Act is not yet in force.

So the current position is that extant regional strategies remain in effect until wholly revoked. A development plan document must be in general conformity with the regional strategy, and it is unlawful to take into account the Government's intention to abolish regional strategies when considering general conformity at the stage of submission.

However, it is open to LPAs when preparing plans to take account of the intention to revoke at all times up until the date of submission.

Practically, therefore, an LPA that does not want to take the regional strategy into account will delay submission of its development plan documents, because after submission and during examination it cannot take the Government's intention into account.

Future arrangements

The Government has carried out a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the effects of revoking regional strategies, the consultation for which closed on 20 January 2012.

Following completion of that consultation process and consideration of all material matters, all regional strategies are likely to be revoked.

Outside London, DPDs and Neighbourhood Development Plans will make up the development plan and the requirement that DPDs be in general conformity with the regional strategy will be repealed.