Government loses court battle over housing

Nia Williams

November 11, 2010

The move was ruled unlawful by the High Court yesterday after Cala Homes challenged the move.

Commenting on the judgement, Pickles said: “Whilst respecting the court’s decision this ruling changes very little. Later this month, the Coalition Government will be introducing the Localism Bill to Parliament, which will sweep away the last Government’s controversial regional strategies.

“It is clear that top-down targets do not build homes – they have just led to the lowest peacetime house building rates since 1924, and have fuelled resentment in the planning process that has slowed everything down.

“We are determined to return decision-making powers in housing and planning to local authorities and the communities they serve, alongside powerful incentives so that people see the benefits of building. We will very shortly provide more details about one of the most important such incentives – the New Homes Bonus Scheme, which will come into effect from April. This means that new homes delivered now will be rewarded under the scheme.”

Commenting on the verdict, Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “In the long-term this ruling will change little. It perhaps provides a narrow window of opportunity for some house builders to challenge local authority decisions to reject housing schemes, whilst highlighting the need for the government to work hand-in-hand with the property industry, who are actually broadly in support of their localism agenda.

With government still insisting that their intention to remove Regional Strategies should continue to be taken into account by local authorities as a material consideration, few local authorities are likely to feel compelled to give the go-ahead to schemes that they do not want. The ruling is unlikely to end the current confusion within local authorities.”

Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, Caroline Flint MP, said: “The High Court ruling raises embarrassing questions about the way Eric Pickles ripped up plans for desperately needed new homes.

“The government’s decision to scrap regional housing targets, without thinking of the impact, has led local authorities to ditch plans for 160 000 new homes – 1,300 every single day.

“It has also undermined the construction industry by creating confusion and uncertainty.

“Added to a housing budget cut by more than half, the coalition’s housing policies are doing little to meet the aspirations of the hundreds of thousands of families who want to live in a decent home.”

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