Cala Homes (South) Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Winchester City Council
On 6 July 2010, the Government announced the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs) - strategic development and regeneration plans designed to meet the needs of each of England's nine designated regions. The decision, which the Government intended (and still intends) to cement in the Localism Bill, is a manifestation of its policy to return decision making powers on housing and planning to local councils.
In November 2010, Cala Homes, a Scottish house builder, succeeded in overturning the Government's decision on the basis that it was unlawful to revoke RSSs without an Act of Parliament and, as a result, RSSs were reinstated (albeit temporarily pending the Localism Bill becoming law).
Following this decision, however, it materialised that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, had written to local planning authorities and the Planning Inspectorate setting out his expectation that the Government's intention to abolish RSSs should be taken into account as a 'material planning consideration' in any planning decision. In February 2011, Cala Homes also sought judicial review of this decision but failed to persuade the High Court judge on all counts. Despite Cala's intention to appeal, this recent decision constitutes a real blow to house builders who may have been looking to push through developments, despite local opposition, before the Localism Bill becomes law and RSSs are no more.