Posts Categorized: Current thinking

Value judgments

There has been head-scratching here at the DCP Blog about how to recognise a ‘valued landscape’ (Paragraph 109 of the NPPF). Valued by whom?

In Leckhampton, Cheltenham (DCS Number 200-004-992) the secretary of state agreed with his inspector that the site, whilst not designated, had its own intrinsic charm which gave it value and that it was a locally valued landscape.

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Post Brexit

An appellant whose plans to build a house within 400m of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area have been thwarted due to the presence of protected birds in the SPA has claimed the country’s impending departure from the European Union in support of the proposal (DCS Number 400-013-119).

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Out of sight, out of mind

Not so long ago the view of inspectors was generally that the impact on openness in the green belt had little to do with whether or not development could be seen. Any physical structure would necessarily reduce openness, it was reasoned. A recent court case appears to have changed things somewhat radically, however.

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A trail of lawsuits

You don’t have to look far to find an example from Donald Trump’s trail of lawsuits, referred to by President Obama in his farewell address in Philadelphia. An inspector has recently cited Trump International Golf Club Scotland v Scottish Ministers [2015] in declining to issue a lawful development certificate for the retention of a rear extension at a house in east London (DCS Number 400-012-343).

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Burden of proof on council in GPDO retail conversions

In allowing the change of use of a music shop and an estate agent’s in north London to two flats under the GPDO (DCS Number 400-012-173) an inspector has highlighted the difference in the level of supporting evidence required between the prior notification procedure and the planning application procedure.

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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.”

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The pendulum swings

The oscillations of the planning system in accord with contemporary political thinking are always fascinating to observe.

It seems like only yesterday that every last back garden was being sized up for its potential for residential development, residential curtilages being identified as brownfield land and accordingly suitable to make a contribution towards the nation’s housing land supply. In fact, it was in March 2012 that the pendulum reached the limit of its arc, garden grabbing having got out of hand, and the NPPF defining previously developed land as excluding land in built-up areas such as private residential gardens.

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