In a judgment handed down yesterday (Eastleigh Borough Council v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government  EWHC 1862 (Admin)), the High Court has confirmed that where a local planning authority has a five year housing land supply (5YHLS), a Planning Inspector is not required to increase the weight attributed to development plan policies protecting the countryside.
In the judgment, Mr Justice Garnham upheld an Inspector’s decision to permit the development of 70 homes in Eastleigh.
The Council challenged the Inspector’s decision in two respects.
The first ground of challenge was to the Inspector’s finding on whether the appeal site was “well served by walking”, as required by an accessibility policy. The Court found the matter was a planning judgment for the Inspector, and he was not required to specifically consider whether pedestrians would take a shorter but unsafe route rather than a longer safe route.
The second ground of challenge was to the Inspector’s finding that the existence of a 5YHLS was not relevant to the weight to be given to development plan policies protecting the countryside. It was argued by the Secretary of State and developers that, unlike where there is no 5YHLS where the NPPF specifically states plans are out of date, there is no policy requirement to give increased weight to development plan policies where a 5YHLS exists. The Court accepted this argument and found the benefit of additional housing is a matter for the planning balance rather than weight to be given to the development plan policies.
Leon Glenister represented the Secretary of State.