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Court of Appeal hands down West Berkshire judgment on affordable housing policy

DATE: 11 May 2016

The Court of Appeal has today handed down judgment in the important case of R (West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council) v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2016] EWCA Civ 441. The case involved a challenge to the Government's policy on the provision of affordable housing on small sites of fewer than 10 units, and the vacant building credit, both of which were set out in a Written Ministerial Statement of 28 November 2014. Before Holgate J at first instance, the claim succeeded on four grounds: inconsistency with the statutory scheme, failure to have regard to material considerations, unlawful consultation and breach of the public sector equality duty ("PSED"). The Secretary of State appealed on all grounds. 

The Court of Appeal allowed the Secretary of State's appeal on all grounds. Laws and Treacy LJJ gave the judgment of the Court (with which the Master of the Rolls agreed). The Court's judgment is an important analysis of the role of central government in promulgating policy, the nature of such policy and its interaction with the underlying statutory scheme in the planning field. It also contains an important analysis of the scope of the obligations on decision-makers to carry out a lawful consultation, as well as the scope and application of the PSED. 

Click here for the judgment.

Richard Drabble QC and David Blundell represented the appellant Secretary of State.

David Forsdick QC and Alistair Mills represented the respondent local authorities.