Home target findings due

The High Court was set to give judgement this week on the legal challenge brought by CALA Homes against the scrapping of regional housing targets.

Legal debate centred on communities secretary Eric Pickles's right to abolish regional spatial strategies (RSS) and the potential impacts on strategic environmental assessments (SEA) (Planning, 3 September, p1).

Following an initial letter to local authorities in May outlining his intentions, Pickles revealed his decision to scrap regional strategies to parliament on 6 July.

"It was interesting to hear the discussions on SEAs," said Hogan Lovells associate Hannah Quarterman. "Normally they are used as a back-up argument. It all depends on the interpretation of what makes up a local plan and the impact of an RSS on it."

Peter Village QC of 4-5 Gray's Inn Square, appearing for the developer, told Mr Justice Sales that primary legislation should have been introduced and that parliament had been denied the opportunity of a debate. He argued that Pickles's decision strikes at the heart of parliamentary democracy.

For the communities secretary, James Eadie QC said that Pickles had acted within his powers. He had made his executive decision to revoke RSSs using powers under the Planning Act 2008 on the basis that this would "avoid a period of uncertainty over planning policy and inconsistent decision-making among local authorities".

CALA has a pending appeal against Winchester City Council's failure to determine an application for 2,000 homes.

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