Council considers next steps following legal judgment in ‘duty to cooperate’ planning matter

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News release: 12 July 2017
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Council considers next steps following legal judgment in ‘duty to cooperate’ planning matter

A judge has rejected St Albans City and District Council’s legal challenge related to the development of its Strategic Local Plan (SLP). 

The Council had challenged a Planning Inspector’s conclusion that it has not met its duty to cooperate with neighbouring planning authorities while drawing up its SLP.

In his judgment, the Judge, Sir Ross Cranston, said: “I accept the Secretary of State’s submission that once there is disagreement, I would add even fundamental disagreement, that is not an end of the duty to cooperate, especially in an area such as housing markets and housing need which involve as much art as science, and in which no two experts seem to agree.”

Cllr Mary Maynard, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning said: “We were pleased that the judge found sufficient merit in our case to give us permission to apply for judicial review. Nevertheless, today’s judgment is disappointing. We remain committed to delivering a Strategic Local Plan that will shape our housing, commercial, retail and industrial environment in the District until 2031.  We will take stock and re-assess our approach, and we look forward to working with all our stakeholders, particularly our neighbouring Councils. We want to make sure we achieve the very best outcomes for residents.  This will include balancing the delivery of the right number of homes to meet the needs of our growing population, ensuring our business and retail community continue to thrive and protecting our precious Green Belt and green spaces.”  

Cllr David Yates, Planning Policy Committee LibDem Group Spokesperson commented: “The outcome is certainly disappointing. The Inspector may have been legally entitled to conclude that St Albans had not shown him that it had cooperated sufficiently with neighbouring local authorities, but that doesn’t get us any closer to having a Local Plan in place. It’s frustrating that whilst everyone acknowledges that a ‘Duty to Cooperate’ is not a duty to agree, reaching a disagreement is taken as indicating a failure to cooperate.”

Cllr Iain Grant, Planning Policy Committee Labour Group Spokesperson commented:  “I hope to see early progress in our continued work with neighbouring authorities to resolve the points of difference and make progress on delivery of much-needed affordable (and other) housing for this District.”  

Background

Last year (2016), the Council submitted its draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP) for approval to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). 

Once formally agreed and adopted, the SLP will form a blueprint for building and infrastructure development in the District until 2031. 

The DCLG appointed a Planning Inspector, David Hogger, to examine it.  Following an initial hearing on 26 October last year, Mr Hogger concluded that the Council had not met its duty to co-operate* while drawing up its SLP.

The Council started legal proceedings against the Secretary of State in January this year to challenge the Planning Inspector’s conclusion. Permission to apply for a Judicial Review was granted on 22 June after a hearing, and the Judge, Sir Ross Cranston, handed down his judgment today (12 July 2017).  

The judgment is available as a download below.


Councillor contacts:

Cllr Mary Maynard, Portfolio Holder for Planning, St Albans City and District Council, Tel: 07774 783509, Email: cllr.m.maynard2@stalbans.gov.uk 

Cllr David Yates, Planning Policy Committee LibDem Group Spokesperson, Tel:  01727 875775, Email: cllr.david.yates@stalbans.gov.uk

Cllr Iain Grant, Planning Policy Committee Labour Group Spokesperson, Tel: 01727 811286, Email: cllr.i.grant@stalbans.gov.uk


Contact for the media:

Claire Wainwright, Executive and Communications Manager, St Albans City and District Council, Tel: 01727 819572, Email: claire.wainwright@stalbans.gov.uk 

www.stalbans.gov.uk


Notes for editors:

* The duty to co-operate is set out in section 33A of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase 2004 Act. 

See also:

22 June 2017, press release: Permission given for Judicial Review on planning issue with final decision to follow.