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.
“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.