Court of Appeal allows 584 home Blackpool development despite RSS revocation

Out-Law News | 28 Feb 2012 | 2:44 pm | 1 min. read

The Court of Appeal has allowed a 584 home development in Blackpool to go ahead, dismissing an appeal against permission for the development. 

The Court ruled that the change of planning policy represented by the intention to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) was not material on the facts of the case and dismissed the appeal.

The High Court had previously ruled that the development should go ahead. It found that Blackpool Council's decision to allow the development was based on local considerations. It rejected the argument that because RSSs were being abolished the decision should not stand.  The High Court ruled that the abolition of RSSs was not material to the case.

The Court of Appeal has now backed that ruling and has said that the abolition of RSSs would not have affected the balance of the issues involved.

Blackpool Council approved the development plans in 2010, though it noted that the scheme conflicted with a local plan policy against residential development in that area. It gave greater weight to the RSS's target of a five year land supply for new homes and to emerging planning policy for Blackpool that favoured development in the area.

Between the approval of plans and the grant of permission the Secretary of State attempted to revoke all RSSs along with their associated housing supply targets.

RSSs required local planning authorities to identify a long term supply of housing land to meet the demands for new housing in their region.

The grant of planning permission was challenged by a local resident. She launched a judicial review challenge, arguing that the Council should have referred the planning application back to the planning committee in light of the proposed revocation of RSS in May 2010, which was a material consideration to be taken into account in their decision.

The Secretary of State’s revocation of all RSSs was subsequently quashed on the ground that it was unlawful and ineffective under the existing planning legislation, although regard still had to be given to the Government's intention to revoke RSSs.

In dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal judge ruled that the Council had not failed to have regard to a material consideration.

The change of planning policy represented by the intention to abolish RSSs was not material on the facts of the case because it was not a factor that, when placed in the decision–maker’s scales, could have affected the balance one way or another, the judge ruled.

Since the Council was content with the housing figures in the RSS, so far as they concerned the area for which they had responsibility, they were entitled to retain that housing target and have regard to it in their decision, the Judge ruled.