The much awaited Supreme Court judgement on the application and meaning of NPPF paragraphs 14 and 49 was handed down on 10th May. The judgement overturns the Court of Appeals interpretation of the phrase ‘relevant policies for the supply of housing’.
The Court adopted the narrower view of what the relevant policies for the supply of housing means, overturning the Court of Appeals ruling saying that the “straightforward interpretation is that the words refer to the policies by which acceptable housing sites are to be identified and the five years supply target is to be achieved”.
The issue is whether there is a five year supply and not whether the failure is because of inadequate housing policies or the over-restrictive nature of other non-housing policies. A shortfall in housing supply is the trigger for the operation of the second part of paragraph 14.
The judgement firmly places control in the hands of the decision-maker and reinforces the primacy of the development plan. It is for the decision maker to then apply the relevant weight and planning balance.
It is our view that the judgement is a sensible one that gives local authorities the impetus to ensure that local plans are up to date and relevant, ensuring that adequate supply of housing is both being planned for and delivered. If not then challenges to planning refusals and the weight attached to the weighting are likely.
Full judgement can be accessed here https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2016-0076-judgment.pdf
New Forest District Council have issued a second open letter to site promoters of potential strategic sites http://www.newforest.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=34364&p=0 regarding four matters important to the finalisation of the draft local plan. Promoters only have until 12 May to provide the planning policy team with information relating to Site masterplanning and technical information; Development phasing; Planning application intentions; and Continuation of site progress meetings. The Council is working on the timing of an Inspector’s Report being published end of 2018 which working back suggests an examination in the summer of 2018 with the document submitted around the turn of this year.
The opportunity to submit further potential strategic sites would appear to have passed, although the Council’s website is still running the opportunity for new sites to be submitted by completing a Sites Submission Form http://www.newforest.gov.uk/article/16542/Strategic-Land-Availability-Assessment—Call-for-Sites although it is not clear how these would be considered within the process.
Smaller non-strategic sites i.e. less than 100 will be addressed in a sister Allocations document once the local plan review has been completed. However, the local plan will also set the key strategic policies that will influence the location and acceptability of non-strategic sites so it is important that if you have such a site that you place it in the Council’s radar!
Two conjoined appeal decisions at Colden Common in Winchester District have been dismissed by a planning inspector. One of the grounds of challenge by the appellant was that the Council could not justify a 5 year housing land supply. The appeals ran concurrently to the consideration and publication of the Inspector’s Report into the Council’s Local Plan Part 2 which was concerned with site allocations. The appellant’s site was not included within the Local Plan. The Local Plan inspector found that the Council could demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing. The s78 appeals contested that the Council could not, primarily for the reasons that the Council is reliant on 3 strategic sites to deliver the majority of its housing and that these will take considerably longer than the Council forecasts. In addition, the appellant considered that the Council has a poor record of delivery and that an existing shortfall in delivery should be made up over the next 5 years.
The appeal inspector found in favour of the Council on all matters i.e. that they did not have a record of persistent under delivery and that given the nature of strategic sites that these would take time to come forward and therefore should not be penalised by requiring the shortfall to be made up within 5 years. The appeals inspector was in a difficult position with a Local Plan inspector’s report freshly published and his decisions mean that any future challenge on housing land supply grounds will need to bring evidence of delay to delivery that reduces the Council’s supply figures. Also future completions rates should be monitored to inform the housing land supply situation.
However, hot on the heels of these decisions, the Hampshire Chronicle published this week http://www.hampshirechronicle.co.uk/news/15242020.Giant_housing_scheme_could_be_delayed_because_of_stalemate_over_funding/ an article speculating on the possible delay to housing at Whiteley. Such issues highlight the complexity of bringing major schemes forward and the long and drawn process of getting a site to where it can start on site. Such issues influence the timing of delivery and can frustrate local planning authority’s forecasting, hence the need for Council planners to be robust in their understanding of issues which may not form part of their normal consideration. In the short term, housing delivery in Winchester is likely to continue to fall behind the Council’s housing requirement while longer term the Council is committed to reviewing its Local Plan with the whole issue of future housing numbers and potential housing sites back on the agenda.
Intelligent Land, acting for a local Client, has recently obtained planning permission for a dwelling in Colehill which lies in the Green Belt and in a Conservation Area.
The application sought to expand the residential use of the first floor over a detached garage into the whole building with suitable alterations. Whilst the primary issue related to the interpretation of Green Belt policy as set out at paragraph 90 of the National Planning Policy Framework in relation to the re-use of buildings, there were also issues related to the impact on the Burts Hill and Merrifield Conservation Area where the prevailing historic pattern was of ….humble cottages of cob and thatch that pepper the hilly landscape…’
We warmly welcome Jane Piper who joins us at Intelligent Land. With over 18 years of planning experience within both the public and private sector. She’s a former director of Terence O’Rourke Ltd where she gained considerable experience promoting and project-managing large and complex mixed use urban extensions and regeneration projects, focussing on delivering high quality market housing and places, which is her passion.
Jane provides planning advice, strategic thinking and project-management for even the most complex schemes whether that’s through the planning application system or through the local plan or appeal process.
If you need some advice or would like to benefit from Jane’s experience and skill set, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07887 526404.
6,000 unit scheme submitted in Fareham where as part of the team we submitted the site wide viability report.
Interesting watching the supreme court in action earlier this week hearing the co-joined cases brought by Cheshire East and Suffolk Coastal in their attempt to overturn the meaning of ‘policies for the supply of housing’ together with its relationship with the meaning of sustainable development. The outcome will have significant implications one way or the other. Following closely on from the Housing White Paper and the government’s proposals for changes to housing land supply it is very much watch this space! What is for certain is that the need for housing will not go away and being able to demonstrate a robust land supply position will remain for Council’s and applicants alike.
Planning application for the regeneration of an important site in the centre of Poole submitted this week for Hignell Baker Investments Ltd.
Working with LMA Architects a sensitive solution to the former Dibbens site at the Lower end of High Street, Poole, in the heart of the Conservation Area, has been found that respects the integrity and character of the CA. 38 urban lifestyle flats and new A3 unit will help breath vitality back into the area. Thanks to the Neighbourhood Forum for facilitating engagement and providing advice leading up to submission.