The plan-led system

In deciding an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for seven houses in north London (DCS Number 400-015-723) an inspector has highlighted the primacy of the development plan.

The proposal did not make provision for a contribution towards affordable housing, the developers drawing attention to national planning policy in the Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) of 28 November 2014, which states that “Due to the disproportionate burden of developer contributions on small-scale developers, for sites of 10-units or less… affordable housing and tariff style contributions should not be sought”. The inspector recorded that the WMS, taken together with the related sections of the Planning Practice Guidance are clear and unequivocal statements of national policy, and as a consequence are considerations to which he attached very considerable weight.

The inspector also, however, referred to the recent judgement of the Supreme Court [Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government v Hopkins Homes Ltd; Richborough Estates Partnership LLP v Cheshire East Borough Council  – also known as Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes Ltd [2017] ], in particular paragraph 21, which makes clear that national policy “cannot and does not purport to, displace the primacy given by statute and policy to the statutory development plan. It must be exercised consistently with, and not so as to displace or distort, the statutory scheme.”

The inspector decided, accordingly, that whilst the WMS and PPG were both material considerations in the case they did not automatically displace the statutory primacy of the development plan in his assessment of the planning merits of the appeal. The appeal was dismissed.

The following DCP section is relevant: 4.011

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