Recently a Planning Inspector ruled against Central Bedfordshire Council’s (CBC) Development Strategy. In its response to this ruling CBC are considering a Judicial Review of the Inspectors decision. But is the Council’s Judicial Review justifiable? Perhaps it is not.

It is CBC’s Development Strategy. It is their Duty to Cooperate. The Planning Inspector advised CBC what criteria were going to be applied and the evidence required to test CBC’s Duty to Cooperate claims. The criteria and evidence base are the Department of Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) not the Inspector’s. On the basis of these criteria and CBC’s own evidence the Inspector has decided that CBC failed in its Duty to Cooperate. The reasons underpinning the Inspector’s judgement are contained in his letter to the Council.

Duty to Cooperate is not a duty to agree therefore Luton Borough Council’s responses to the Development Strategy may be unhelpful but irrespective of them CBC could have demonstrated it met its Duty to Cooperate obligation but it could not. The Inspector in his opening remarks said he was legally responsible for making Duty to Cooperate judgements and that if anyone wished to contest this they should do so during the Public Examination rather than waiting until he made his judgement. If these are the facts it appears there is no justification for a Judicial Review?