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Planning Court: The meaning of “new isolated homes” in NPPF para. 55

DATE: 15 Nov 2017

Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework for England states that local planning authorities should “avoid new isolated homes in the countryside” unless there are “special circumstances”, examples of which are then given. When would a new home be an “isolated home”?

In Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] EWHC 2743 (Admin), the Council challenged the decision of a planning inspector that a proposal for new housing in the countryside would not result in new “isolated homes” because “there are a number of dwellings nearby”. The Council submitted that this could not be reconciled with the inspector’s view that the accessibility of the proposed site to “services, facilities and employment” would be “poor”.

Lang J rejected the Council’s case, agreeing with the Secretary of State that the word “isolated” in paragraph 55 of the NPPF should be given its ordinary, objective meaning. This is a home “far away from other places, buildings, or people; remote” (Oxford Concise English Dictionary). A home that is “isolated from services and facilities” is not, therefore, necessarily an “isolated home” as the Council contended. The judge agreed that this would be to add an unwarranted gloss to the word “isolated” as it is used in the NPPF.

Gwion Lewis acted for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The judgment is available here.