The High Court has today upheld Cala Homes' challenge to the revocation of the Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) by Eric Pickles. The claim was that the purported revocation was unlawful because it required primary legislation.
Communities and local government minister Bob Neill is reported to have said:
"This judgment changes very little. Later this month we will be introducing the Localism Bill to Parliament, which will sweep away the controversial regional strategies. Top-down targets don't build homes - they've led to the lowest peacetime house-building rates since 1924.
"The Government remains firmly resolved to scrap this layer of confusing red tape. Instead, we will work with local communities to build more homes. This was a commitment made in the Coalition Agreement and in the general election manifestoes of both coalition parties. We intend to deliver on it."
However, this leaves local planning authorities and developers in limbo. As the purported revocation is quashed, then RSSs are presumably now material considerations in the determination of planning applications. Draft Core Strategies which were put on hold or scrapped because they relied on the RSS could now be resurrected.
Whether or not authorities actively take that step remains to be seen, as the Government will almost certainly bring in the primary legislation required. This may, however, take some time. Developers who have had a planning application refused because of the abolition of RSSs may wish to re-consider their application in the light of today's ruling.