Supreme Court appeal by Councils over interpretation of NPPF and effect on planning policies

Posted on: April 18th, 2016

It is no huge surprise that Local Authorities are launching an appeal in relation to the case cited in the article below.

The Court of Appeal judgement, that a failure to demonstrate a 5 year housing supply would mean that other policies are out of date, has far reaching consequences for Local Planning Authorities and the plan-led system.

Paragraph 14 of the NPPF sets out the presumption in favour of sustainable decision making, which in decision-making terms means permission should be granted where plan policies are out of date, assuming there are no adverse effects which would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, or other NPPF policies to the contrary.

As set out in the judgement, paragraph 49 of the NPPF states that any development plan policy (including policies relating to green belt, AONB, etc) that restricts the provision of housing is a “relevant policy for the supply of housing”, and if a 5 year housing supply cannot be demonstrated such policies are not to be considered as “up to date”. This in turn has been interpreted such that such policies are “out of date” for paragraph 14 purposes as well, making it more likely that planning permission will be granted for housing proposals where a 5 year housing land supply can not be demonstrated.

From the Local Planning Authority perspective there will be a concern that a wide interpretation of what are relevant policies for housing means the wholesale devaluation of numerous policies within their development plans on the sole basis that housing land supply policies are insufficient. Furthermore there will also be the concern that this also diminishes the plan-led system. However, it would also be a shame if the appeal means that authorities ignore the wake-up call to get to grips with the housing land supply issue as a result of the judgement.

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