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Materiality, weight and the plans of the Secretary of State

By J

R (Cala Homes (South) Ltd) v Secretary of State (No.2) [2011] EWCA Civ 639 is one that we may have missed when it first came out (or we decided not to do it – we can’t quite remember now), but, given that I have some free time this morning, I thought I’d do a short note on it. We’ve set out the background (and there is a fair bit of it) here (Cala Homes No. 1) and here (Cala Homes No.2 – High Ct) and I won’t repeat it. In essence:

(a) the government announced it would abolish Regional Strategies;

(b) it then purported to do so, under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009;

(c) in Cala Homes No.1 the High Ct decided that this couldn’t be done – the power in the 2009 Act was to modify, not abolish entirely;

(d) the Secretary of State then announced he’d abolish them via primary legislation in the Localism Bill and a letter to this effect was sent to local planning officers;

(e) in Cala Homes No 2, an attempt to have (d) declared unlawful was rejected; in essence, developments in planning policy are plainly matters that the Secretary of State is entitled to tell people about and the possible abolition of Regional Strategies was a matter for local authorities to have regard to as they saw fit.

Cala Homes appealed to the Court of Appeal, where their appeal was dismissed. The weight to be given to Regional Strategies (pending their anticipated abolition) was a matter for individual authorities to consider, but it could not be said to be a wholly immaterial factor which should be left out of account.

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.


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