A group of North West housebuilders are gathering a 'war chest' to launch a legal battle against the ongoing moratorium on new homes, the AJ has learned.
The group's adviser told the AJ that they are furious about housing limits outlined in new regional planning guidance that have left at least 15 planning authorities with no choice but to impose an outright ban on new homes.
The coalition is collecting the cash to fund a judicial review against the Government Office for the North West (GONW) in the High Court, said the adviser who preferred not to be named.
He added that while the group 'remains committed' to negotiating over Regional Planning Policy Guidance Note 13, it believes it will be 'left with no option but to head for the courts'.
In June last year at least one firm of architects in the Lancaster area started laying off staff because residential and domestic work was drying up. Pierre Williams, head of communications at the House Builders Federation, said he sympathised with the 'legal option' as a future course of action. 'We're trying to impress upon the government the desperation of the situation, ' he said. 'It could well transpire that legal action is the only option open to us.
'Conversations have certainly taken place on this subject and we desperately need to ensure that the issue is resolved, ' he added.
Local architects have reacted with sympathy to the news. Nick Gillibrand, one of the first architects to highlight the problem (AJ 19.6.03), said he strongly sympathised. 'It amazes me that politicians have not acted quickly on this. There needs to be a legal challenge to the acts of the regional authorities.
'If nobody acts quickly then there will be blood on the carpet, ' he added. 'There can't be this kind of messing around with the planning system again.'