So the decision of Eric ‘Two Lunches’ Pickles, head of the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) has this morning been deemed unlawful by the High Court.
This is probably not quite as earth-shaking a decision as you might think, as in any case the new Localism Bill will be brought in next month and will end them anyway, legally.
But a Pyrrhic victory is a victory nonetheless and the feeling remains amongst developers – and self-builders – that the removal of regional targets was a huge mistake. They remain for the short term the only encouragement to local authorities to get homes built on their patch and not many people I speak to think that the new alternative – central govt. funding in the way of matching the council tax receipts of any new home built for six years (i.e. probably about an extra £8-12k per home over the period) is likely to work.
I know there is a huge trend towards letting local people make local decisions, but the current ‘hands-off’ approach means that we are building less houses than ever. Today’s decision won’t change that, but it does at least highlight the current shambles of Government policy.