My last post considered the impacts that the changes to the Use Classes Order (and the creation of Class E) might have on town centres and retail planning.  It now appears that I may  have written it a little prematurely as  a legal challenge to the order has been filed in the High Court. 

The claim, which has been filed by Rights: Community: Action , a climate change campaign group, seeks both to quash the underlying statutory instrument, and the granting of an interim injunction delaying it coming into effect.  A full copy of their letter before action can be found here.

The challenge does not solely relate to the amendments to the Use Classes Order. It also attacks:

  • The newly created permitted development right allowing the demolition of certain office and industrial buildings and their replacement with new build housing; and
  • the newly created permitted development right allowing householders to extend their homes upwards by either one or two storeys. 

The PD Right allowing purpose built blocks of flats to be extended upwards by up to two storeys has not been challenged. 

The grounds of challenge, which are worth reading in full, centre on perceived government failures to:

  • carry out the necessary strategic environmental assessments of the impact of the changes to the planning system on the wider environment;
  • comply with their public sector equality duties; and
  • genuinely take into account the responses made to the consultations on the proposed changes and other material considerations. 

The statement of facts and grounds can be read here

Whilst the challenge has now been filed with the High Court, this does not, at present, impact on effectiveness of the statutory instruments themselves. The changes to the use classes order and the new permitted development rights are still due to come into effect early next week.  

That is unlikely to change until either:

  • the Court makes a decision on the application for interim relief; or
  • a substantive decision is reached by the Court.

This is a case that we will all be watching with interest. Given the rate at which this Government is proposing large-scale reform - both to the planning system and more generally - I strongly suspect this challenge will be the first of many....