The Court of Appeal has agreed to consider a judicial review of an Examining Inspector's decision that Central Bedfordshire Council had failed to comply with the duty to co-operate when preparing their Local Plan.
The lack of clarity on how far the duty currently extends has been tripping up a significant number of local planning authorities in recent years; particularly those who share a boundary with highly constrained urban authorities (such as London, Oxford or Luton) that are simply unable to plan for enough houses to meet demand within their own authority boundaries.
The decision will, hopefully, provide some much needed clarity over the extent of the duty. It may also, with a bit of luck, help speed up the adoption of local plans and remove some unnecessary uncertainty from the planning system.
The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal against Patterson J’s decision to refuse permission for judicial review in R (Central Bedfordshire Council) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 2167. The appeal is brought on two grounds: First, that in finding that Central Bedfordshire Council had failed to comply with the duty to cooperate when preparing their local plan, the inspector had wrongly conflated the test for the duty to cooperate with the test of soundness ... The second ground concerns the margin of appreciation to be given by inspectors when determining whether a local authority has complied with the duty to cooperate. ... Laws LJ held that both grounds are arguable and that the duty to cooperate needs to be looked at by the Court of Appeal.