Oxford City Council, together with Milton Keynes and Northampton Councils have failed to overturn the amendment to the Planning directive concerning C4 usage that Shapps and Pickles introduced earlier this year. They had gone to judicial review on the basis that there had been insufficient consultation prior to the amendment. The high court ruling made it clear that local authorities could determine for themselves if they wanted to introduce planning restrictions via the article 4 directive that Oxford have already invoked.
Judge Sir Michael Harrison noted that the initial change in regulations followed a consultation by the Labour Government on HMOs. In making its amendments, the Coalition Government had carried out a smaller consultation, including asking the Local Government Association. All three councils had responded to this, although they were not invited to do so.
The judge said: “It was not in my view unreasonable for the defendant to decide to ballot representative bodies rather than to consult local planning authorities directly. In my judgement the consultation exercise was not so unfair as to be unlawful.”
I am sure that this will not be the last court action in respect of this issue. It has still to be properly established that there is any material change of use in movement from C3 to C4 and there will inevitably be a string of compensation cases where authorities such as Milton Keynes have sought to implement changes without any notice.