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Attaching weight to Mr Pickles

By J

We noted round 1 of Cala Homes (South) Ltd v Secretary of State back in November (see our note here) in which the High Court found that Mr Pickles could not abolish Regional Strategies (e.g. “the south-west plan” governing the approach to, say, new-build housing developments) without primary legislation. He’s currently trying to get that legislation through Parliament in the Localism Bill.

After his defeat in round 1, he issued a statement which “while respecting the court’s decision” told authorities that the decision “changes very little” and that the government would press ahead with abolition via primary legislation. He, and the Chief Planner, informed authorities that this was a “material consideration” that they should have regard to when making any planning decisions. Cala Homes apparently felt (and with some justification) rather cheated by this response, and so sought judicial review for a second time, contending that Mr Pickels was attempting to subvert the statutory scheme and thwart the first judgment. That second claim is now been decided: Cala Homes (South) Ltd v (1) Secretary of State (2) Winchester City Council [2011] EWHC 97 (Admin).

The case was dismissed. Prospective changes to the planning system and policy framework were relevant to individual planning decisions and were, in principle, a relevant consideration to which authorities should have regard. The weight to be attributed to the changes were, however, a matter for individual planning authorities, subject to judicial review.

In addition, the decision of the Secretary of State could not be characterised as irrational; it was desirable for the government to explain how it intended to respond to judgments. Additional arguments on the Strategic Environmental Assessment Regulations are, frankly, too planning-specific to be covered here.

J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


  1. CJ

    We have today lodged a JR on behalf of two Gypsy clients challenging the letter and statement from Mr Pickles on the basis of failure to carry out a proper equalities impact assessment re the proposed abolition of Regional Strategies.
    I also understand that Cala Homes are looking at an appeal
    Watch this space

  2. CJ

    Cala Homes granted leave to appeal and expedited hearing yesterday by Carnwath LJ.


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