Pickles decides not to fight planning claim
Communities secretary Eric Pickles will not fight the claim that he acted unlawfully when turning down planning permission for 2,000 new homes.
In a surprise turn of events, the government has abandoned its defence of a judicial review brought by developer Cala Homes just two days before the case was due to be heard.
Mr Pickles turned down Cala’s application to build 2,000 homes at Barton Farm near Winchester in September on the basis that approving it would go against the council’s attempts to develop a core strategy.
It was this planning application that led to Cala launching a judicial review at the High Court against Mr Pickles’ decision to effectively abolish regional spatial strategies in 2010.
Cala decided to challenge the planning application decision in November, and said Mr Pickles should have made the decision on planning grounds alone, rather than taking the local authority’s strategy into account.
The decision by the government to abandon the case means it has acknowledged that Mr Pickles decision was unlawful. He will now have to consider Cala’s planning application again.
A spokesperson from Cala Homes said: ‘We are pleased that the secretary of state has decided to reconsider his decision on Barton Farm and hopefully this process will be completed quickly and positively so that the much needed housing provision can be delivered as soon as possible.’
A CLG spokesperson said: ‘Rather than spending public money on ongoing legal challenges, this planning appeal will simply be returned to the department for decision and will be decided in the light of all relevant information.
‘Cases that are re-determined will be considered following any new representations from councils, developers and other interested parties. This will ensure that any new matters, such as changes in development plan status, and other relevant circumstances can be considered.’