It’s all agreed

An appeal case relating to the refusal of outline permission for up to 80 dwellings in Hampshire (DCS Number 200-006-896) sums up current thinking about policies which place a blanket restriction on development in the open countryside.

The inspector recorded that the site was outside the settlement boundary and as such the proposal would conflict with local plan policy which resisted development in the countryside.

He explained that in the light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes Ltd and SSCLG, Richborough Estates Partnership LLP and SSCLG v Cheshire East BC [2017], it is now common ground that such policies do not amount to policies for the supply of housing in the terms of Paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework. Readers will be familiar with Paragraph 49 which states: “Housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.”

So does this mean that the blanket restriction remains secure? No, it doesn’t, because Paragraph 14 of the Framework then kicks in. The council accepted that it could not demonstrate a five-year land supply. Indeed, the inspector noted, the scale of the housing shortfall was acute. As such, it was common ground between the main parties that the ‘tilted balance’ set out in the second part of the Framework’s Paragraph 14 was engaged. This states that planning permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole. Bearing this in mind, the council considered that planning permission could now reasonably be granted for the appeal scheme.

The inspector concluded that although the proposal would conflict with relevant local plan policies, it would not result in adverse effects that would be sufficient to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the scheme’s clear benefits, notably the provision of much needed housing. He determined that the particular circumstances were sufficient to override the policy conflict.

The following DCP section is relevant: 7.133