Media Briefing Note: CALA Homes

LONDON, 10 November 2010, The CALA Homes case was a judicial review of the SoS Eric Pickles' decision on 6th July to revoke all regional spatial strategies with immediate effect. 

CALA succeeded, on the basis that the power relied on by the SoS (s79 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act) could not lawfully be used for this purpose.  Instead, it was part of a legislative framework whose purpose was to create and maintain the regional planning framework, rather than demolish it.  Such abolition requires Parliamentary approval and therefore primary legislation. 

A second ground, not in the event relied on because the first was successful, was that the revocation should have been subjected to strategic environmental assessment. This would also have been successful.

The decision leaves us in an uncertain world.  The Government has been quick to suggest that its proposal to use the Localism Bill to revoke RSS's means that in fact the decision changes very little.  Opponents say that RSS's now form part of the development plan once again and must therefore be used to guide decision-making.  It is all very interesting and controversial.

Michael Gallimore, partner in Hogan Lovells real estate planning team said:

"The Government has made clear its intention to abandon RSSs and the two grounds on which the challenge has succeeded can be addressed in the longer term through the Localism Bill and by carrying out Strategic Environmental Assessment. That will however take time and in the interim RSSs remain intact and part of the Development Plan. The Government is treading on very thin ice by suggesting, in its Ministerial Statement, that the intention rapidly to abolish Regional Strategies is a valid material consideration in planning decisions. The weight to be given to that intention needs to be given very careful consideration in view of the due process which now needs to be gone through before the abolition is achieved."

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