Council launches legal action

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News release: 06 January 2017

St Albans City and District Council has challenged an Inspector’s conclusion that it has not met its duty to co-operate while drawing up its Strategic Local Plan (SLP).

St Albans from the air

The Council started legal proceedings on Thursday 5 January against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to quash the decision.

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

The DCLG appointed a Planning Inspector, David Hogger, to examine it. He held an initial hearing on 26 October 2016 and sent the Council his conclusions on 28 November.

In his letter, he concluded the Council had not met its duty to co-operate with neighbouring planning authorities while drawing up the SLP.

This duty is set out in section 33A of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase 2004 Act.

After taking external legal advice, the Council has now decided to take legal action against the Secretary of State.

It has applied to the High Court for permission to seek a Judicial Review of his Planning Inspector’s decision. A judge will consider the application in the next few weeks.

The Council contends that the decision is unlawful and is challenging it on five grounds.

Firstly, the Council says the Inspector wrongly interpreted parts of the National Planning Policy Framework. He took into account immaterial considerations in relation to the identification of strategic issues within the SLP.

Secondly, he failed to engage with or take into account the issues which were engaged with in the plan-making process when reaching conclusions on the duty to cooperate.

Thirdly, he failed to identify what matters were strategic for the purposes of Section 33A of the 2004 Act.

Fourthly, in reaching his conclusions on the relationship between Dacorum Borough Council’s core strategy and the SLP, he made an error of law.

Finally, the Inspector made conclusions on the soundness of the SLP which were wrong.

Councillor Julian Daly, the Council’s Leader and Portfolio Holder for the SLP, said: “The Council believes the Inspector’s conclusion that we did not meet the duty to co-operate is flawed.

“We are therefore seeking a judicial review of the decision and look forward to having our case heard.

“However, we remain committed to meeting with the Councils which raised concerns so that we can understand and address their positions.

“I will continue to work closely with the other parties’ spokespeople in the development of the Council’s approach.”

The SLP sets out policies on development in the District until 2031, identifying land for new housing, infrastructure, commerce, industry and social amenities. It was produced following two intensive public consultations.
Councillor contact:
Cllr Julian Daly, Leader of St Albans City and District Council and Portfolio Holder for Resources.
Mob: 07775 657200
Media contact:
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council. Tel: 01727-296130