Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 30, 2016

Could Party Political Donations From Developers Decide The Parrs Lane Planning Appeal?

In a remarkable developer claim for building houses on Parrs Lane there is a likelihood that IF the Inspector finds for the Appellants Redrow and Wainhomes then West Lancashire wlbclogo will become the quoted national standard for safeguarded land, a disastrous legal precedent.

Proofs of Evidence by Peter Richards dealing with the reasons for planning refusal related to safeguarded land policy and the agricultural land quality of the Parrs Lane site, together with the matter of whether West Lancashire can demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, are undeniable and unchallengeable. This can be the only conclusion from the documents produced to the Public Inquiry held just over a week ago, documents weighing over one and a half pounds in old money!

In the matter of the five-year housing land supply WLBC provided evidence of a 6.1 year total supply, whereas the Appellants claim is that the WLLP housing requirement does not meet the full affordable housing need. Referring to Satnam Millennium Limited v Warrington Borough Council it seems the Appellants shot themselves in both feet by claiming WLLP did not lawfully prove affordable housing needs.

Unlike the Satnam v Warrington case, the WLLP Inspector did consider the issue of affordable housing need in arriving at a housing requirement for the WLLP. In any event, if the Appellants had a concern about the manner in which the Inspector dealt with the evidence of affordable housing need in arriving at a housing requirement for the WLLP, they could have challenged the adoption of the WLLP at the time. As no challenge was brought within the time provided for by section 113 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the WLLP and the Inspector’s examination of the WLLP “may not be questioned in any legal proceedings” .

So, as Peter Richards for WLBC stated “In this context, the Satnam v Warrington case is irrelevant and the Appellant has put forward no new evidence to the Council on affordable housing need or objectively assessed housing need that would cause the Council to even consider activating the third Plan B trigger.

While the LPA considers that West Lancashire does have a five-year housing land supply for the period 2015-2020, notwithstanding the above analysis, were the Inspector to take a contrary view, NPPF paragraph 49 would come into effect and policies for the supply of housing in the WLLP would not be considered up-to-date.

Richards quoted “In the light of the Court of Appeal’s decision in Richborough Estates Partnership LLP v Cheshire East Borough Council and SSCLG [2016] EWCA Civ 168 it is accepted that policies GN2 and RS6 are relevant policies for the supply of housing. However, the Court of Appeal went on to say that the fact that policies are regarded as out-of-date for the purposes of paragraphs 14 and 49 of the NPPF does not mean that the relevant policies are irrelevant to the determination of the application or appeal. Nor does the NPPF prescribe what weight should be given to such policies. The decision-maker must decide what weight to give to the policies, and s.38(6) of the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act and the plan led system this creates remains the starting point with the NPPF being a material consideration only.

In relation to policy GN2 it is the view of the LPA that, even if West Lancashire were not to have a five-year housing land supply, the safeguarding of all land allocated under policy GN2 remains part of the Development Plan and should continue to carry significant weight. And within the NPPF, the concept of safeguarded land is discussed in relation to the release of land from the Green Belt solely for the purpose of longer-term development needs and the NPPF is very clear that “Planning permission for the permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following a Local Plan review which proposes the development”.

Therefore, Richards submitted, the recent adoption of the WLLP (including policy GN2) should be given significant weight in any planning decision. This appeal is being considered only two and a half years after the adoption of the WLLP. Indeed, only 18 months after the Inspector examining the WLLP found policy GN2 and the allocation of the appeal site as safeguarded land “sound”, the appellants submitted applications proposing that policy GN2 was out of date, with no evidence to support such a bold statement. Not just bold, but downright greedy and a blatant attempt to override local democracy for profit.

Given the recent adoption of the WLLP, policy GN2 should not be considered out of date. The NPPF is clear that development of such safeguarded land should only be granted planning permission after a Local Plan Review reallocates the land for development. To undermine such a recently adopted Local Plan policy would disregard the NPPF and set a dangerous precedent for safeguarded land across the country. The Court of Appeal in the Richborough Estates case made the point that the NPPF retains the Government’s commitment to a “plan led” system.

Reasonable developers might hold up their collective hands and withdraw the appeal. Residents of Aughton and the borough must thank Peter Richards, for, by what must by any standards be a masterly display of logic, he has led the Inspector via Richborough Estates to the only acceptable outcome, that of finding for WLBC and its Local Plan. Any other outcome might have residents believing party political donations trump the Court of Appeal. And now back to watching carrots grow on Parrs Lane parrslanecarrots.


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