High Court rules introduction of PPS 14 was unlawful

In the High Court today Mr Justice Gillen ruled that the intrdouction of the draft Planning Policy Statement 14 was unlawful. The draft Policy had been imposed by the then-Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Shaun Woodward [pdf file], on behalf of Lord Rooker, in March 2006 and effectively imposed a blanket ban on planning permission for new homes in rural areas. Draft Planning Policy Statement 14 here [pdf file]. I’ll add the judgement when it’s available. An additional report here And from the RTÉ report

Mr Justice Gillen ruled that the decision of the minister was both unlawful and beyond Mr Rooker’s powers. Several thousand applications for one-off housing in Northern Ireland will now have to be re-examined by Environment Minister Arlene Foster.

Update DoE statement Further update Full judicial decision here
Adds Concluding paragraph from the judgement

“In the circumstances of this case therefore I make an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the Minister with the responsibility for Regional Development made on or about 16 March 2006 whereby he purported to introduce a new planning policy statement PPS 14 and secondly, I make a declaration that the said decision and the said Planning Policy Statement 14 are unlawful and ultra vires”.

Update From the DoE statement

[Environment Minister] Arlene Foster commented that her understanding, despite some press reports to the contrary, is that the judge has yet to decide whether or not to quash PPS 14. The Court has given the parties a week to consider the issue of remedies before finalising the judgement. The Minister has said that she will ensure that the two Departments will liaise in respect of remedies.

However, until the issue of remedies has been determined, the Minister has made it clear Planning Service will still take draft PPS14 into account when it is deciding applications. She also added that she is currently participating with other Ministers in an Executive Sub-Committee which is looking at the whole policy of single dwellings in the countryside.

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  • steve48

    And you thought the planning process was slow now!

  • slug

    Depressing news for those of us who love NI’s countryside and hate lots of houses being built on it.


  • jpeters

    great news for us who want to keep rural communities intact and on the land

  • Philip McNeill

    Here is a question for constitutional law buffs:

    The judiciary may quash a statutory instrument – except an Act of Parliment: the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereigntry barrs this. However will the juduaciary be able to declare Acts made at Stormont null and void as Stormont is an Assembly and also subserviant to Westminster? Hence making an Act of Stormont subject to judicial reviews.

  • jpeters

    Stormont decisions i feel would be open to judicial review as it was set up under an Act of Parliament, as far as i am aware all authorities set up by parliament can have their decisions judicially reviewed if ultra vires or in breach of the human rights act

    ps the judicary do have some imput into Acts of Parliament, they have to vet them to make sure that they comply with the Human Rights Act

  • BonarLaw

    Philip McNeill

    I would direct you to the Human Rights Act- all legislation now has to be confirmed compatible with that. If not even Westminster legislation could be struck down.

  • jpeters


    pedantic point ‘declared incompatible’ rather than struck down

  • BonarLaw

    but struck down has a much more dramatic ring to it 😉

  • jpeters

    yeah its up there with
    ‘i’ll see you in court!’
    ‘case closed’
    ‘i want the truth!’

    They have never let me use any of these terms, not even once!

  • BonarLaw

    My two dream cross examination moments:

    “You can’t handle the truth!!”

    “Liar, Liar, pants on fire.”

  • jpeters

    my best moment was: (from a judge on a highway tripper):

    ‘you should be grateful we are not living in spain’

  • BonarLaw

    “Mr BonarLaw, when are you going to represent a client who hasn’t buggered his children?”

  • jpeters

    Defence Sol (Trainee): ‘hes hardly Al Capone your worship’

  • kensei

    “pedantic point ‘declared incompatible’ rather than struck down”

    Not pedantic. in the Republic or the US, a law struck down by the Supreme Court ceases to be. In the UK, one “declared incompatible” remains in force until Parliament does something about it. Hence why the Belmarsh people weren’t out automatically the last time.

  • slug

    “t the judge has yet to decide whether or not to quash PPS 14”

    Where does this leave us? Might PPS14 stay in place?

  • Outsider

    Where does this leave us? Might PPS14 stay in place?

    At the moment its still in place but its back to the drawing board.

    The reality is NI is getting overcrowded and with huge immigration occuring PPS14 was always on shakey ground.

  • Philip McNeill

    If the Monarch in Parliament lawfully makes a statute then it is law, be it offending the HRA 1998 or not – the judiciary may ink out only secondary legislation.
    My question was:
    Is an Act of Stormont purely semantics for a court could still strike out the Act (sic). For as someone rightly said Stormont derives its power from Parliament and thus has weakened sovereignty. My God Tony really has fecked up the Union.

  • USA

    Glad to see this law has been / will be overturned. I could not believe the arrogance of some viceroy abitrarily changing such an important law overnight without consultation.
    I was more amazed by the child like acceptance of this by the people and their political leaders. This was a dictatorial act, which would have been met with a firestorm of criticism had the administration tried it in the US.
    Good riddance and the people should not let themselves be treated like that in the future.
    Credit to Justice Gillen.