Luton Borough Council challenges 5,000-home Bedfordshire urban extension, citing neighbouring council's 'failure to co-operate'

Out-Law News | 25 Jul 2014 | 4:50 pm | 1 min. read

Luton Borough Council (LBC) has applied for a judicial review of neighbouring Central Bedfordshire Council's (CBC) decision to grant outline planning permission for a 5,000-home urban extension, citing among its reasons that CBC failed in its duty to co-operate with LBC over local housing provision, according to a report in Planning Magazine.

The Localism Act created a legal duty for councils to actively engage with one another in relation to sustainable development issues with cross-border impact on neighbouring planning areas. The issues on which councils must co-operate include housing, and LBC considers Luton to be part of a single housing market with much of central Bedfordshire and the western edge of North Hertfordshire, according to the strategic housing land availability assessment (SHLAA) produced by LBC in April.

LBC is reliant on surrounding councils to help meet its need for housing land. In its SHLAA, LBC said that while 17,800 new homes are required by 2030 in order to meet Luton's projected population growth, "capacity for 4,384 dwellings has been identified from deliverable and developable sites". In 2013, LBC gave representations to the local plan consultation of another neighbouring council, North Hertfordshire District Council, saying that "North Hertfordshire must accept the need to help meet some of Luton's unmet housing need, given the tight land constraints within our boundaries".

CBC granted outline permission for Houghton Regis Development Consortium's proposals to build up to 5,150 homes and 202,500 square metres of space for commercial, industrial, retail and other uses on 262 hectares of farmland to the north of Houghton Regis, on 2 June. According to the report, LBC applied for a judicial review of this decision on 8 July, saying that, in granting planning permission, CBC failed in its duty to co-operate with LBC.

LBC also claimed that CBC altered Green Belt boundaries unlawfully and undermined its own local plan, according to the report.

"[LBC] have lodged papers with the High Court, challenging [CBC]'s decision to approve the planning application for development to the north of Houghton Regis," confirmed Jason Longhurst, CBC director of regeneration and business, according to the report. "The first stage requires a formal response to the grounds cited by Luton as forming the basis of their challenge and the council's legal representatives are working on our response at the moment."