High Court considers interpretation of NPPF entry-level exception site policy for first time

The High Court has handed down judgment today dealing with the correct interpretation of paragraph 71 of the 2019 NPPF (now paragraph 72 of the 2021 NPPF). In particular, the Court considered the meaning and scope of the policy requirement for entry-level exception sites to comply with “local design policies and standards”, and the role that landscape impact plays in this. A similar policy requirement applies to First Homes exception sites.

The High Court (HHJ Jarman QC) found that the support given for entry-level exception sites in paragraph 72 of the NPPF of the NPPF recognises that "harm to the landscape would be likely, at the least" and that it was open to a decision-maker to find that "design policies" were complied with notwithstanding that residual harm to the landscape was identified, provided that residual landscape harm could not be mitigated by design.

Separately, it was also found that it was open to a decision-maker to reduce the weight to local plan policies not containing a public benefits heritage balance, notwithstanding comments made by the Court of Appeal in Bramshill that the absence of an explicit reference to such a balance did not put such policies in conflict with the NPPF.

The judgment is available here.

Andrew Parkinson acted for the Secretary of State instructed by the Government Legal Department.

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