No kidding, Sherlock

The parties at appeals relating to residential development will often press to argue about whether or not the planning authority can show a five-year housing land supply. In relation to an appeal for up to 61 dwellings in Derbyshire the inspector pointed out, however, that it was not for him to carry out a forensic analysis of the housing statistics (DCS Number 200-005-175). In support of this stance he referred to the Planning Practice Guidance which advises that up-to-date housing requirements and the deliverability of sites to meet a five-year supply will have been thoroughly considered and examined prior to adoption, in a way that cannot be replicated in the course of determining individual applications or appeals where only the appellant’s evidence is likely to be presented to contest an authority’s position. Similarly, the Court of Appeal in St Albans City and District Council v Hunston Properties Ltd and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, [2013]  found that, “It is not for an inspector on a Section 78 appeal to seek to carry out some sort of local plan process as part of determining an appeal, so as to arrive at a constrained housing requirement figure. An inspector in that situation is not in a position to carry out such an exercise in a proper fashion, since it is impossible for any rounded assessment similar to the local plan process to be done. That process is an elaborate one involving many parties who are not present at or involved in the Section 78 appeal.”

The inspector’s approach in the case before him was to note that the appellant’s evidence was untested whereas the council’s approach had been thoroughly tested in local plan examinations. He concluded that he had little reason to doubt the council’s position that a housing land supply in excess of five years existed.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 7.131

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