Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 10, 2017

Supreme Court Decision On Planning Policies For Housing Supply

In a dramatic and far-reaching judgment, the Supreme Court  has overturned the received wisdom on the vexed question of the meaning and application of the term “policies for the supply of housing” and the “presumption in favour of sustainable development” introduced to national planning policy in paragraphs 49 and 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

The main ground argued by the local authorities, Suffolk Coastal District Council and Cheshire East District Council, was that a narrow meaning should be given to the term “relevant policies for the supply of housing” in paragraph 49 NPPF, rather than the wide interpretation given by the Court of Appeal and supported by the Government, which meant that policies protecting the countryside, Green Belt, AONB and designated heritage assets were “deemed” to be out of date if the Council could not demonstrate that there was a deliverable 5 year’ supply of housing land.

Although the appeals by Suffolk Coastal District Council and Cheshire East DC were dismissed on other, less important grounds, the local authorities’ success on the main ground means that the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal and 6 of the 7 decisions on the question in the Planning Court have been found to be wrongly decided in relation to the main issue on which permission to appeal to the Supreme Court was given.

 For Suffolk Coastal District Council, the finding in the lead judgement of Lord Carnwath, that their Local Plan policies restricting development in the countryside and seeking to encourage new development only within the settlement boundaries are not “policies for the supply of housing” is seen as a very important protection of the environment in the District.

The decision also makes important findings on other key issues relating to:
– The scope of Footnote 9 of the NPPF which includes related local plan policy as well as policy in NPPF
– The weight to be given to policy where there is no 5year housing land supply;
– The relationship between interpretation and application of policy having regard to Tesco v Dundee

Suffolk Coastal D.C. were also successful in arguing that the approach taken by the Inspector who had found that the development would be unacceptable in the historic parkland of Grove Park and his treatment of Heritage Asset policy was a “faithful application of the guidance in paragraph 215 of the Framework” and that the decision letter was “an admirably clear and carefully constructed appraisal of the relevant planning issues in the light of the judicial guidance then available”. The Court expressed “reluctance” in quashing the decision on narrower grounds concerning the weight to be afforded to the settlement boundaries, that had been carried forward from an earlier plan. [Source Cornerstone Barristers]

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