The 2012 NPPF: A Digest of Decisions
Section 6 – Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes
Cotswold DC v SSCLG  EWHC 3719 (Admin), Lewis J
Regarding the general purpose of NPPF 47, Lewis J said :
“Paragraph 47 is to be interpreted, and applied, having regard to its purpose and context. The purpose of the Framework is to set out the Government’s view of what constitutes sustainable development in England. That includes providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations: see paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Framework. Section 6 of the Framework is concerned with the government’s view of how local planning authorities should deliver appropriate housing. The immediate context of paragraph 47 of the Framework is therefore concerned with what local planning authorities should do to boost significantly the supply of housing, as appears from the opening words of paragraph 47. The first bullet point is concerned with ensuring that Local Plans meet the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing. That is, it is dealing with the assessment of need for the period after the end of the Structure Plan and during the currency of the next Local Plan (to cover an appropriate time scale, preferably a period of 15 years: see paragraph 157 of the Framework). The second bullet point is concerned to ensure that local planning authorities identify a “supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing” with an additional buffer of 5% (moved forward from later in the plan period) to ensure choice and competition in the market. Where there has been “a record of persistent under delivery of housing” local planning authorities should increase the buffer to 20% (moved forward from later in the plan period) to provide a realistic prospect of achieving the planned supply and to ensure choice and competition in the market for land.”
Specifically on the question of persistent under-supply, Lewis J held :
“In the context of paragraph 47, the reference to “persistent” under delivery of housing is a reference to a state of affairs, under delivery of housing, which has continued over time. A decision-maker would need to have regard to a reasonable period of time measured over years rather than looking at one particular point, to ensure that the situation was one of persistent under delivery rather than a temporary or short lived fluctuation. The precise period of time would be a matter for the judgment of the decision-maker. There has to be a “record” of under delivery of housing. That points towards assessing previous performance (i.e. the performance in the period prior to the expiry of the Structure Plan and before the new Local Plan should have come into force). The need to establish a record of under delivery indicates there will need to be some measure of what the housing requirements were, and then a record of a failure to deliver that amount of housing persistently, i.e. a failure continuing over a relevant period of time. A decision-maker would be entitled to take the figures in the previous Structure Plan as a measurement of what the housing requirement was in order to assess whether there has been a record of persistent under delivery of housing. However, the requirement is that there has been a record of persistent under delivery of housing (not a failure to meet the targets set out in the Structure Plan). It would, in my judgment, be open to a decision maker to identify an appropriate measure of housing needs either separately from the Structure Plan or as a means of reinforcing conclusions drawn on the basis of the Structure Plan.”
When assessing whether there was a record of persistent under-supply, five years was a sufficient period to consider. The NPPF looked forward for five years, so it was reasonable to look back for five years. An inspector can also take into account that there has been under-delivery with respect to a structure plan which itself understated the need for housing .
Wainhomes Holdings Ltd  EWHC 597 (Admin), Stuart-Smith J
Stuart-Smith J considered in detail Footnote 11 of the NPPF, which relates to NPPF 47. His Lordship stated at :
i) It is common ground that planning permission is not a necessary prerequisite to a site being “deliverable”. This must be so because of the second sentence of Footnote 11 and because it would be quite unrealistic and unworkable to suggest that all of the housing land supply for the following five year period will have achieved planning permission at the start of the period;
ii) The parties are agreed that a site which is, for example, occupied by a factory which has not been derequisitioned, or which is contaminated so that housing could not be placed upon it, is not “available now” within the meaning of the first sentence of Footnote 11. However, what is meant by “available now” is not explained in Footnote 11 or elsewhere. It is to be read in the context that there are other requirements, which should be assumed to be distinct from the requirement of being “available now”, though there may be a degree of overlap in their application. This suggests that being available now is not a function of (a) being a suitable location for development now or (b) being achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years and that development of the site is viable. Given the presence of those additional requirements, I would accept Ms Busch’s submission for the Secretary of State: “available now” connotes that, if the site had planning permission now, there would be no other legal or physical impediment integral to the site that would prevent immediate development;
iii) Questions as to the viability of the proposed development or, for example, whether a developer had been identified or was in a position immediately to start work, would go to the question whether there was a realistic prospect of delivery within five years, but not to the question whether the site was available now. For the same reason, the fact that a site does not “offer a suitable location” does not affect whether or not it is “available now”, suitability of the location being a separate requirement;
iv) Where sites without planning permission are subject to objection, the nature and substance of the objections may go to the question whether the site offers a suitable location; and they may also determine whether the development is achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years. Even if detailed information is available about the site and the objections, prediction of the planning outcome is necessarily uncertain. All that probably need be said in most cases is that where sites do not have planning permission and are known to be subject to objections, the outcome cannot be guaranteed. Accordingly, where there is a body of sites which are known to be subject to objections, significant site specific evidence is likely to be required in order to justify a conclusion that 100% of all those sites offer suitable locations and are achievable with a realistic prospect that they will be delivered within five years;
v) For similar reasons, where sites are in contemplation because of being included in an emerging policy document such as the eWCS, and the document is still subject to public examination, that must increase the lack of certainty as to outcome. That is implicitly recognised by  of NPPF which requires decision-takers to “give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans according to: the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the preparation, the greater the weight that may be given)” and to “the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given)….” …
Gladman Development Ltd v Wokingham BC  EWHC 2320 (Admin), Lewis J
“Where a development plan document is intended to deal with the assessment of the need for housing, then, the provisions of the Framework material to housing need will be a material consideration. A local planning authority dealing with the question of the amount of housing needed for its area will need to have regard to paragraph 47 of the Framework. The provisions governing a local plan – that is a development plan document – dealing with the assessment of housing need would have to have regard to paragraphs 158 and 159 of the Framework. Any examination of that local plan, that is that particular development document, would need to have regard in that context to paragraph 182 of the Framework.
Properly read, however, the Framework does not require a development plan document which is dealing with the allocation of sites for an amount of housing provision agreed to be necessary to address, also, the question of whether further housing provision will need to be made.” -
R (Smech Properties Limited) v Runnymede BC  EWHC 823 (Admin), Patterson J
Christopher Katkowski KC and Alistair Mills appeared for the Claimant
Heather Sargent appeared as Junior Counsel for the Defendant
Reuben Taylor KC appeared for the Interested Parties
“I entirely accept, as the defendant submits, that the annual report on housing, required under paragraph 47 of the NPPF, will be updated for a planning application or planning appeal so that the decision maker is able to take the decision before him on the most up to date evidence.” 
Exeter City Council  EWHC 1663 (Admin), Hickinbottom J
Stephen Whale appeared for the Claimant
Sasha Blackmore appeared for the Secretary of State
Charles Banner appeared for the Second and Third Defendants
“Paragraph 47 reflects two different concepts, namely the “policy off” objectively assessed housing need and the “policy on” housing requirement, which I have explained above (see paragraph 10). It is clear that the policy off need and policy on requirement will be the same if there are no policies that impact upon the policy off figure. In this case, none was suggested. The words in paragraph 47 omitted by the Inspector about which Mr Whale makes complaint therefore had no relevance in this case. The Inspector did not arguably err by omitting (and/or not taking into account the import of) words in the NPPF that were immaterial to the issues before her.” 
St Modwen Developments Ltd  EWCA Civ 1643, Jackson, McCombe, Lindblom LJJ
“35 Deliverability is not the same thing as delivery. The fact that a particular site is capable of being delivered within five years does not mean that it necessarily will be. For various financial and commercial reasons, the landowner or housebuilder may choose to hold the site back. Local planning authorities do not control the housing market. NPPF policy recognizes that.
36 Where the policies in paragraphs 47 and 49 of the NPPF are concerned with the composition of the five-year supply of housing land, they are consistently worded to refer to a supply of housing sites that can be regarded as “deliverable”, not sites that are regarded as certain to be delivered. Thus, in the second bullet point of paragraph 47 the local planning authority’s task is to “identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing against their housing requirements …” (my emphasis) – with the appropriate buffer (whether 5% or 20%), whereas in the third bullet point, the requirement for subsequent years (“years 6-10 and, where possible, … years 11-15”) is for the identification of specific sites that are “developable”, or “broad locations for growth”. And in the policy in paragraph 49 the implicit requirement is the same, namely that the authority must be able to “demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites” (my emphasis). By contrast, the policy for the “housing trajectory” in the fourth bullet point of paragraph 47 is not expressed in terms either of “deliverable” or of “developable” sites as such, but in terms of illustrating “the expected rate of housing delivery ” (my emphasis).
37 That those who drafted the policies in paragraph 47 and 49 of the NPPF intended to refer to “deliverable sites” and “deliverable housing sites” where they did, with a meaning distinct both from that of the expression “developable sites” and also from the idea of an “expected rate of housing delivery”, is confirmed by their having taken the trouble to define the word “deliverable” so precisely in footnote 11, and the word “developable” in footnote 12. Had the Government’s intention been to frame the policy for the five-year supply of housing land in terms of a test more demanding than deliverability, this would have been done.
38 The first part of the definition in footnote 11 – amplified in paragraphs 3-029, 3-031 and 3-033 of the PPG – contains four elements: first, that the sites in question should be ” available now”; second, that they should “offer a suitable location for development now”; third, that they should be ” achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years”; and fourth, that “development of the site is viable ” (my emphasis). Each of these considerations goes to a site’s capability of being delivered within five years: not to the certainty, or – as Mr Young submitted – the probability, that it actually will be. The second part of the definition refers to “[sites] with planning permission”. This clearly implies that, to be considered deliverable and included within the five-year supply, a site does not necessarily have to have planning permission already granted for housing development on it. The use of the words “realistic prospect” in the footnote 11 definition mirrors the use of the same words in the second bullet point in paragraph 47 in connection with the requirement for a 20% buffer to be added where there has been “a record of persistent under delivery of housing”. Sites may be included in the five-year supply if the likelihood of housing being delivered on them within the five-year period is no greater than a ” realistic prospect” – the third element of the definition in footnote 11 (my emphasis). This does not mean that for a site properly to be regarded as “deliverable” it must necessarily be certain or probable that housing will in fact be delivered upon it, or delivered to the fullest extent possible, within five years. As Lord Gill said in paragraph 78 of his judgment in Suffolk Coastal District Council , when referring to the policies in paragraph 47 of the NPPF, the insistence on the provision of “deliverable” sites sufficient to provide five years’ worth of housing reflects the futility of local planning authorities relying on sites with “no realistic prospect of being developed within the five-year period”.
39 One must keep in mind here the different considerations that apply to development control decision-making on the one hand and plan-making and monitoring on the other. The production of the “housing trajectory” referred to in the fourth bullet point of paragraph 47 is an exercise required in the course of the preparation of a local plan, and will assist the local planning authority in monitoring the delivery of housing against the plan strategy; it is described as “a housing trajectory for the plan period” (my emphasis). Likewise, the “housing implementation strategy” referred to in the same bullet point, whose purpose is to describe how the local planning authority “will maintain delivery of a five-year supply of housing land to meet their housing target” is a strategy that will inform the preparation of a plan. The policy in paragraph 49 is a development control policy. It guides the decision-maker in the handling of local plan policies when determining an application for planning permission, warning of the potential consequences under paragraph 14 of the NPPF if relevant policies of the development plan are out-of-date. And it does so against the requirement that the local planning authority must be able to “demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites”, not against the requirement that the authority must “illustrate the expected rate of housing delivery through a housing trajectory for the plan period”.
R (St Albans City and District Council)  EWHC 1751 (Admin), Sir Ross Cranston
Matthew Reed KC appeared for the Claimant Council
“…paragraph 47 NPPF says nothing about the duty to cooperate. Rather, the NPPF makes clear that compliance or otherwise with the duty to cooperate can feed into a judgement about effectiveness and soundness of a plan.” 
Jelson Ltd  EWCA Civ 24, Rupert Jackson, Lindblom and Peter Jackson LJJ
Christopher Lockhart-Mummery KC appeared for the Appellant
Sasha Blackmore appeared as Junior Counsel for the Secretary of State
“…national policy and guidance does not dictate, for decision-making on applications for planning permission and appeals, exactly how a decision-maker is to go about identifying a realistic and reliable figure for housing need against which to test the relevant supply (see paragraphs 35 and 36 of my judgment). … Where the Government wanted to be more specific in the parameters it set for decision-makers considering whether a local planning authority could demonstrate the required five-year supply of housing land, it was — in laying down the approach to calculating the supply of deliverable housing sites in paragraphs 47 and 49 of the NPPF, and, in particular, in carefully defining the concept of a “deliverable” site (see my judgment in St Modwen Developments Ltd. v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWCA Civ 1643 , at paragraph 36).
… Often there may be no single correct figure representing the “full, objectively assessed needs” for housing in the relevant area. More than one figure may be reasonable to use. It may well be sensible to adopt a range, rather than trying to identify a single figure. Unless relevant policy in the NPPF or guidance in the PPG has plainly been misunderstood or misapplied, the crucial question will always be whether planning judgment has been exercised lawfully, on the relevant material, in assessing housing need in the relevant area…” -
Richborough Estates Ltd and others  EWHC 33 (Admin), Dove J
Richard Moules appeared as Junior Counsel for the Secretary of State
The Claimant argued that the Secretary of State acted irrationally in publishing a Written Ministerial Statement regarding neighbourhood planning which it was said would frustrate the delivery of housing and the objective of the NPPF to boost significantly the supply of housing. Dove J rejected this argument.
“There is, in my judgment, a relatively short answer to this Ground. As Ms Lieven pointed out in the course of her submissions, whilst it is undoubted that the Framework clearly promotes as a key priority a significant increase in the supply of homes, and places a national priority on this objective as a key change in National Planning Policy, that is not an objective which exists on its own and isolated from the other interests addressed by the Framework. It is not a policy objective which is to be pursued at all costs and irrespective of the other objectives of the Framework. It is important to note that the Framework itself at paragraph 6 specifies that paragraphs 18-219 of the Framework taken as a whole constitutes the defendant’s view of what sustainable development in England means in practice. Amongst the other concerns for which the Framework has specific policies is, of course, Neighbourhood Planning which it addresses in the paragraphs of the Framework set out above. As is far from uncommon in relation to the consideration of planning policies the objectives addressed in the Framework will, from time to time, pull in different directions. The decision-maker, or in this instance the defendant as policy maker, will have to balance the interests and objectives of the policy in reaching a view as to the appropriate decision or policy to adopt. This is precisely the process which was engaged in the publication of the WMS and I am unpersuaded that there was any irrationality in the defendant’s decision in this connection.” 
Cheshire East Council  EWHC 2906 (Admin), Justine Thornton KC
Reuben Taylor KC appeared for the Claimant
Inspectors had not carried out an impermissible precautionary approach to housing supply:
“In my judgement, there is no error of law in the inspector’s application of the policy framework. He has considered the evidence and applied his judgment. His precautionary approach to the evidence before him is not, as Mr Taylor contended, an impermissible additional test but an application of his judgment to answer the central question of whether the Council had demonstrated a five year supply, within the context of a policy imperative to significantly boost the supply of housing.” 
“In addition, Mr Taylor submitted that the Willaston inspector erred when stating that “I cannot be certain that the Council is able to demonstrate a robust five year supply of deliverable housing sites”. I do not accept the submission. Read fairly, the inspector uses the word “certain” in the paragraph to mean he cannot be confident or comfortable that the Council can demonstrate a supply, as is required of them to avoid the application of the trigger in paragraph 49. He is not setting up an additional test for deliverability beyond the realistic prospect of delivery test in footnote 11.” 
In terms of the test of deliverability for sites with planning permission, a position “that weak or inadequate evidence is good enough for sites with planning permission… would be nonsensical”. 
CPRE Surrey v Waverley BC  EWCA Civ 1826, Patten LJ, Sir Ernest Ryder, Lindblom LJ
“The evaluation the decision-maker must carry out will always involve an exercise of planning judgment, and the scope of reasonable planning judgment here is broad. The degree of accuracy required in establishing the “full, objectively assessed needs” for housing will depend on the circumstances and will itself be a matter of planning judgment. The court will only interfere if some distinct error of law is shown – for example, a misinterpretation of relevant policy or guidance, or a failure by the decision-maker to apply reasonable planning judgment to the available evidence, which may well be imperfect or incomplete (see Jelson, ibid.). It will not be tempted into an assessment of the evidence, expressing a preference of its own for one set of data or another, or forecasts from a particular source. Nor will it engage with the arithmetic unless the decision-maker’s own calculations have clearly gone wrong.” [35(4)]
R (East Bergholt PC) v Babergh DC  EWCA Civ 2200, Underhill, Lindblom and Irwin LJJ
Sasha Blackmore appeared for the Claimant
“49. There is, in my view, no need to enlarge the court’s reasoning in St Modwen Developments Ltd.. What it demonstrates is that the whole exercise of assessing the “deliverability” of sites under the policy in paragraph 47 is replete with planning judgment and must always be sensitive to the facts (see paragraphs 27 to 30, 34, 41 to 43 and 51 of my judgment). And this may be said, in particular, of the question of “achievability” – whether there is a “realistic prospect” of housing being delivered on a site within five years. A “realistic prospect” is not a legal concept. It is a broad concept of policy, which gives ample scope for a decision-maker’s reasonable planning judgment on the likelihood of development proceeding on a site within five years – a predictive judgment on future events that are inevitably not certain. The court recognized the range of legitimate planning judgment available to the decision-maker when considering whether sites have a “realistic prospect” of development in the five-year period. The relevant passages in the judgment refer to a site not “necessarily” having to have planning permission to be regarded as deliverable under the policy, and to it not “necessarily” having to be certain that housing would be delivered on the site within five years (paragraph 38 of my judgment).
50. The policy is not prescriptive. It does not lay down any fixed method for applying the test of “deliverability”, to be used in every case. A “realistic prospect” is not equated to any specific level of likelihood. Nor are there any criteria for deciding this question beyond what is said about the treatment of “[sites] with planning permission” in footnote 11. Subject to that, and to the further relevant guidance in the PPG, the policy leaves the assessment of a “realistic prospect” to the decision-maker’s own planning judgment, which the court will only undo on conventional public law grounds. It is not for the court to stipulate how firm a “prospect” must be if it is to be “realistic”.
51. The policy does not prevent a decision-maker reasonably taking the view, as a matter of planning judgment, that a particular site or sites on which it was not certain or confident that development would occur within five years should be excluded from the five-year supply of housing land. It does not state, for example, that sites without planning permission, but with a resolution to grant subject to a section 106 planning obligation being entered into, should always, or usually, be included in the supply, or that such sites should be included if they have been allocated for housing in the development plan. The same may also be said of the subsequent revisions of the policy in 2018 and in 2019 – in which the definition of a “deliverable” site has been somewhat expanded. Put simply, the degree of confidence required in the “deliverability” of sites is for the decision-maker to decide, within the bounds of reasonable planning judgment.
52. The latitude in the policy itself is also reflected in the relevant guidance in the PPG. Paragraph 3-031-20140306 says that deliverable sites “could” – not “must” – include those allocated for housing in the development plan, and also that a planning permission or allocation is “not a prerequisite” for a site’s inclusion in the five-year supply. But it does not say that any site merely with a resolution to grant, subject to a planning obligation, must be included. It calls for “robust” evidence to support an authority’s assessment of deliverability. Paragraph 3-033-20150327 uses the same adjective in its advice on annual assessments. The guidance does not, in principle, disqualify as insufficiently “robust” an assessment that excludes from the five-year housing land supply a site or sites yet to receive a grant of planning permission.
53. It is clear then that the policy in paragraph 47, and the PPG guidance upon it, accommodate different views on a “realistic prospect” of delivery. A local planning authority can take a more cautious view on this question, or a more optimistic view, than other authorities might. If it does, it is not for that reason acting contrary to the policy, or unreasonably. Had the Government meant to impose a rigid approach, or greater consistency than the policy and guidance require, it would surely have done so. If it had wanted to define exactly what it meant by a “realistic prospect” it could and would have done that. But it has not – either in the policy it originally issued or in the two revisions, or in the PPG.”
Hickinbottom J summarised the effect of NPPF 47-49:
“This guidance, which was published only shortly before the Inspector’s inquiry and report in this case, informs the relevant housing requirement to be used for both the strategic plan-making function of a local planning authority when (e.g.) preparing a Local Plan Review, and the function of decision-making in respect of a particular planning application when it informs the approach of the decision-maker. In the latter case, it is particularly relevant in the absence of a demonstration of a particular level of supply of deliverable housing sites. If the authority cannot demonstrate a five-year plus buffer supply of housing land at the time of a planning application for housing development, then that weighs in favour of a grant of permission. In particular, in those circumstances: (i) relevant housing policies are to be regarded as out-of-date, and hence of potentially restricted weight; and (ii) there is a presumption of granting permission unless the adverse impacts of granting permission significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, or other NPPF policies indicate that development should be restricted in any event. That presumption is, again, not irrebuttable: it may be rebutted by other material considerations.” 
“Of course, an assessment of future housing requirements is essential for the purposes of the development plan. But, equally, the housing requirement position must be considered when a planning application is made for housing development. First, such consideration is required by NPPF paragraph 47-49, because, if the supply is less than five years plus buffer, then that favours grant for the reasons given above (see paragraphs 11-12): there is a presumption in favour of granting permission.” 
“In coming to [a] necessary assessment in the context of a specific planning application/appeal, the Inspector was of course not binding the Council as to the relevant housing requirement so far as the development plan (now, in the form of the Council’s Core Strategy) was concerned. Indeed, the Inspector made it clear that he understood the Council’s role in considering housing supply in the context of the Core Strategy, and was not seeking to assume that role.” 
“In deciding on the housing requirement for the district on the evidence before him and for the purposes of the particular planning application he was considering, the Inspector was not seeking to (and did not in fact) bind the Council, or another inspector or the Secretary of State, as to the housing requirement figure in other applications or appeals. The relevant housing requirement figure in another case would depend upon a separate exercise of judgment on the basis of the evidence available in that other case, at the time of the relevant decision, including relevant policy documents such as the local Core Strategy at whatever stage that process had reached.” 
“This guidance, which became immediately effective from March 2012, is not only relevant to the housing requirement to be used for strategic plan-making by local planning authorities, but informs the approach of decision-makers when determining a particular planning application. In the latter case, it is particularly relevant when the local authority cannot demonstrate a particular future supply of deliverable housing sites. If the authority cannot demonstrate a five year plus buffer supply of housing land at the time of a planning application for housing development, then that affects local policies as to how that need can be met: it weighs in favour of a grant of permission. In particular, in those circumstances, (i) relevant development plan housing policies are to be regarded as out-of-date, and hence of potentially less weight; and (ii) there is a presumption of granting permission unless the adverse impacts of granting permission significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, or other NPPF policies indicate that development should be restricted in any event. That presumption is, again, of course not irrebuttable: it may be rebutted by other material considerations.” 
Hunston Properties Ltd  EWCA Civ 1610;  JPL 599, Kay and Ryder LJJ, Sir David Keane
Matthew Reed appeared for the Council
A leading early case on paragraph 47 and Housing Land Supply, in circumstances where the proposed development would constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The inspector noted that it should not be permitted except in very exceptional circumstances.
 It seems clear, and is not in dispute in this appeal, that such a Local Plan could properly fall short of meeting the “full objectively assessed needs” for housing in its area because of the conflict which would otherwise arise with policies on the Green Belt or indeed on other designations hostile to development, such as those on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Parks.
Sir David Keene set out the issue between the parties :
Neither party before us sought to take issue with the inspector’s findings as to the supply of housing land over the five year period in this district. But, as will be evident from the earlier passages in this judgment, the inspector found that there was no shortfall in the supply because she regarded it as necessary to identify a housing requirement figure which reflected the constraints on built development in the district generally which resulted from the extensive areas of Green Belt there. The best she felt she could do was to adopt the earlier East of England Plan figure which, though in a revoked plan, sought to take account of such constraints. Was she entitled to do so?
His Lordship held at -:
I see the force of these arguments, but I am not persuaded that the inspector was entitled to use a housing requirement figure derived from a revoked plan, even as a proxy for what the local plan process may produce eventually. The words in paragraph 47(1), “as far as is consistent with the policies set out in this Framework” remind one that the Framework is to be read as a whole, but their specific role in that sub-paragraph seems to me to be related to the approach to be adopted in producing the Local Plan. If one looks at what is said in that sub-paragraph, it is advising local planning authorities:
“to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in this Framework.”
That qualification contained in the last clause quoted is not qualifying housing needs. It is qualifying the extent to which the Local Plan should go to meet those needs. The needs assessment, objectively arrived at, is not affected in advance of the production of the Local Plan, which will then set the requirement figure.
Moreover, I accept Mr Stinchcombe [K]C’s submissions for Hunston 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 the 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. I appreciate that the inspector here was indeed using the figure from the revoked East of England Plan merely as a proxy, but the government has expressly moved away from a “top-down” approach of the kind which led to the figure of 360 housing units required per annum. I have some sympathy for the inspector, who was seeking to interpret policies which were at best ambiguous when dealing with the situation which existed here, but it seems to me to have been mistaken to use a figure for housing requirements below the full objectively assessed needs figure until such time as the Local Plan process came up with a constrained figure.
On the facts, the Inspector was obliged to find a housing shortfall. However, the weight to be given to such a housing shortfall (and whether it constituted ‘very special circumstances’ for the purposes of NPPF 87) was a matter of planning judgment.
R (Smech Properties Ltd) v Runnymede Borough Council  EWHC 823 (Admin), Patterson J
Christopher Katkowski KC and Alistair Mills appeared for the Claimant
Heather Sargent appeared as Junior Cousel for the Council
Reuben Taylor KC appeared for the Interested Parties
“The starting point for an assessment of the housing land situation is thus the full objectively assessed housing need as a requirement until a Local Plan process comes up with a constrained figure.” 
York City Council v SSCLG  EWHC 231 (Admin), HHJ Behrens
Stephen Whale appeared for the Secretary of State
Considered an Inspector’s conclusion that the Council’s “first priority” was to achieve an adequate housing land supply, supported by the NPPF. HHJ Behrens found this to be a matter of planning judgment, not open to challenge. 
Tewkesbury BC v SSCLG  286 EWHC (Admin), Males J
James Maurici KC appeared for the Secretary of State
The absence of a five-year housing land supply is not determinative, but it can, as a matter of planning judgment, be viewed as the most important material consideration. 
The fact that a Regional Strategy was not going to be implemented “does not necessarily invalidate what it has to say about the projected need for housing land.” 
South Northamptonshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 573 (Admin), Ouseley J
Stephen Whale appeared for the Secretary of State
The Claimant argued that an inspector was obliged in law to ignore the RSS in its entirety, along with housing supply figures derived from the RSS growth strategy. 
Ouseley J rejected this approach.
“In my judgment the crucial point to take from the Hunston case is how to interpret paragraph 47 (i) of the NPPF, relating the requirement for a full objective assessment of housing needs in the housing market area to the subsequent qualification that that be done so far as is consistent with the policies in the Framework, before the Local Plan is produced, reconciling or balancing the two aims.” 
“Before that happens through the Local Plan, the full objectively assessed housing needs of the area are not subject to the constraints of policy. Those constraints fall for consideration later on in the development control decision-making process, as the Court of Appeal pointed out; for example in a Green Belt case, the question will be whether a shortfall of housing land supply against those fully assessed needs constitutes very special circumstances so as to permit inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The question is not whether the Green Belt constrains the assessment, but whether the Green Belt constrains meeting the needs assessed. Once the Local Plan is adopted, it is the constrained needs in the Plan which are to be met.
“A revoked RSS is not a basis for the application of a constraint policy to the assessment of housing needs, because it has been revoked and cannot be part of the Development Plan. The same would be true of an out of date Local Plan which did not set out the current full objectively assessed needs. Until the full, objectively assessed needs are qualified by the policies of an up to date Local Plan, they are the needs which go into the balance against any NPPF policies. It is at that stage that constraints or otherwise may apply. It may be problematic in its application, but that is how paragraph 47 works. 
“In principle, what is said about full objectively assessed housing needs must apply where the revoked RSS figure was based on growth projections or policies which went beyond a full objective assessment of housing needs. In practice, it may be more difficult to judge the extent to which those objectively assessed needs in the housing market include or exclude a former growth strategy in a revoked or out of date plan. But that remains a planning judgment. 
“The first question for the Inspector in this case was what was the best figure for the full objectively assessed housing needs in the housing market area. Here, there was a particular difficulty because there was no up to date local plan; indeed, except for saved policies, it had expired some six years ago. The emerging JCS suffered from sufficient weakness and uncertainty that it could not be regarded as weighty, let alone as containing the full objectively assessed housing needs figure. The Inspector had the RSS figure, objectively assessed, albeit not very up to date. … 
“The Council provided no evidence of the extent to which the RSS figure for South Northamptonshire had been inflated, if at all, by the former growth strategy. … So it is difficult to see what basis the Inspector could have had for treating the RSS figure as legally irrelevant, simply because the RSS had been revoked and the underlying growth strategy no longer applied. Although there is the potential for an error of law in this respect, I am satisfied that in fact there was no error of law.” 
“The Inspector was entitled to regard it as undesirable for a shortfall in earlier years to be left till later in the plan period to be made good, and to hold that it should be made good earlier. This was a planning judgment to be made in the light of paragraph 47 NPPF, which looked for a significant and immediate boost to housing supply.” 
South Northamptonshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 570 (Admin), Ouseley J
Stephen Whale appeared for the Secretary of State
Ouseley J considered a further challenge on equivalent grounds.
“The real question however is whether, in using the RSS figures and the evidence base as the best source for current objectively assessed housing needs, the Inspector erred in law. Her task was to find a source for such a figure. She only had two, the emerging JCS favoured by the Council and the RSS favoured by the developer. The former she found was of limited weight for perfectly sustainable reasons. The latter, although drawn from the revoked plan still had an evidence base. I see nothing in the Hunston decision which requires the RSS to be totally expunged from history. It only decides that revoked policies cannot be used to perform the task which it is for the local plan to perform, that is to adjust the full objectively assessed housing needs by reference either to policy constraints or by the same token to requirements not arising in the housing market area. The language of paragraph 47 is not confined to the effect of constraint policies.” 
“But the sting of Hunston here depends on whether the figures used in the RSS for South Northamptonshire, excluding the part near the Northampton boundary, were tainted by now revoked growth policies. …” 
Zurich Assurance Ltd v Winchester CC  EWHC 758 (Admin), Sales J
“WCC [Winchester CC] put forward the Core Strategy as a document which would form the part of its Local Plan which would satisfy the requirements of the first bullet point in paragraph 47 of the NPPF, but it was not required to produce and did not attempt to produce a Core Strategy that itself satisfied all the other requirements of paragraph 47. Under paragraph 47 of the NPPF, WCC had a choice about how to satisfy those other requirements within the various development plan documents it would eventually adopt. It could, if it chose, include measures to satisfy those requirements in a core strategy document; but it could also choose to include them in other plan documents which would also be components of the Local Plan. In this case, WCC was expecting to produce other development plan documents below the level of strategic planning in the Core Strategy, which would have more detail and which would be developed to meet the further requirements in paragraph 47 of the NPPF. In my view, that was entirely proper and WCC’s choice not to include such measures in the Core Strategy did not involve any failure to comply with paragraph 47 of the NPPF.” 
Bloor Homes East Midlands Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Department  EWHC 754 (Admin), Lindblom J
James Maurici KC appeared for the Secretary of State
“The relevant passage in the NPPF is in paragraph 47, which advocates the use of either a buffer of 5% “to ensure choice and competition in the market for land” or a buffer of 20%, if there has been “a record of persistent under delivery of housing” in the local planning authority’s area. The purpose of adding a 20% buffer in those circumstances is not only to ensure choice and competition in the land market but also “to provide a realistic prospect of achieving the planned supply”. The NPPF does not go further than that in what it says about the choice of the appropriate buffer. It does not preclude the use of a buffer of less than 5% or more than 20% or somewhere between those two levels. It leaves that to the discretion of the decision-maker.” 
Whether under-delivery is “persistent” is a matter for the decision-maker. 
Paragraph 47 does not “speak either for or against local rent caps.” 
Paragraph 47 differs from PPS3 in two important ways: it abandons a top-down approach to planning, in line with the principles behind the Localism Act 2011. Secondly, it puts more weight on the aim of increasing the supply of housing. Full objectively assessed housing needs are a material consideration of particular standing. 
The reasoning in Hunston applies to plan-making.
Approaching a housing provision figure from the available housing supply (a ‘bottom up’ approach), is the wrong way round. 
Full housing needs must be assessed. All material considerations (including need) cannot simply all be weighed together. It is not sufficient to determine the maximum available supply, and constrain housing provision targets to that figure. The balancing exercise cannot be performed without the actual need 
Gallagher Homes Ltd v Solihull DC  EWCA Civ 1610, Laws, Patten and Lloyd LJJ
Christopher Lockhart-Mummery KC and Zack Simons appeared for the Claimant
Christopher Katkowski KC appeared for the Council
“[Hunston] is binding authority for the proposition that the making of an [Objective Assessment of Needs is an exercise which is prior to, and separate from, the application to that assessment of the impact of other relevant NPPF policies.” 
“I accept that there are aspects of the NPPF which reflect earlier planning policy. But there are also significant changes. They include then requirement in paragraph 47 to “boost” housing supply “significantly”, the formulation in paragraph 47 “to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs…” (my emphasis), and the treatment of “soundness” in NPPF paragraph 182…” 
“The NPPF indeed effected a radical change. It consisted in the two-step approach which paragraph 47 enjoined. The previous policy’s methodology was essentially the striking of a balance. By contrast paragraph 47 required the OAN to be made first, and to be given effect in the Local Plan save only to the extent that that would be inconsistent with other NPPF policies.” 
Satnam Millennium Limited v Warrington Borough Council  EWHC 370 (Admin)
Christopher Lockhart-Mummery KC appeared for the Claimant
It is sufficient for a local planning authority preparing a local plan to take the residue from a wider Housing Market Assessment, even where the figure was calculated before the NPPF. [28(vi)]
“As Mr Paul Brown [K]C submits on behalf of Mr Plumstead, government policy in paragraph 49 of the NPPF makes the ability of the local planning authority to demonstrate a “five-year supply of deliverable housing sites” the test by which the decision-maker ascertains whether or not “[relevant] policies for the supply of housing” are “up-to-date”. It is the corollary of the policy in paragraph 47 that authorities must be able at all times to identify a supply of “specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing against their housing requirements”, with the appropriate buffer. So the critical concept in identifying the requisite five-year supply of housing land, and thus the critical concept in judging whether relevant policies for the supply of housing are up to date, is the requirement for additional housing.” 
Edward Ware Homes Ltd  EWHC 103 (Admin), Holgate J
“I accept the Claimant’s submissions that the NPPF and the Core Strategy require the demonstration of a 5 year supply of housing land for the whole of the area of a local planning authority (or the Housing Market Area). But it does not follow that if such a supply cannot be demonstrated, then it is legally irrelevant for a decision-maker to consider the distribution of housing land supply in parts or sub-areas of the district, whether over 5 years or the plan period.” 
Hopkins Homes Ltd  UKSC 37, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury PSC, Lord Clarke of Stone-cum-Ebony, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hodge JJSC, Lord Gill
Christopher Lockhart-Mummery KC and Zack Simons appeared for Hopkins Homes Ltd
“57 Unaided by the legal arguments, I would have regarded the meaning of paragraph 49 itself, taken in context, as reasonably clear, and not susceptible to much legal analysis. It comes within a group of paragraphs dealing with delivery of housing. The context is given by paragraph 47 which sets the objective of boosting the supply of housing. In that context the words “policies for the supply of housing” appear to do no more than indicate the category of policies with which we are concerned, in other words “housing supply policies”. The word “for” simply indicates the purpose of the policies in question, so distinguishing them from other familiar categories, such as policies for the supply of employment land, or for the protection of the countryside. I do not see any justification for substituting the word “affecting”, which has a different emphasis. It is true that other groups of policies, positive or restrictive, may interact with the housing policies, and so affect their operation. But that does not make them policies for the supply of housing in the ordinary sense of that expression.
58 In so far as the paragraph 47 objectives are not met by the housing supply policies as they stand, it is quite natural to describe those policies as “out-of-date” to that extent. As already discussed, other categories of policies, for example those for employment land or transport, may also be found to be out-of-date for other reasons, so as to trigger the paragraph 14 presumption. The only difference is that in those cases there is no equivalent test to that of the five-year supply for housing. In neither case is there any reason to treat the shortfall in the particular policies as rendering out-of-date other parts of the plan which serve a different purpose.
59 This may be regarded as adopting the “narrow” meaning, contrary to the conclusion of the Court of Appeal. However, this should not be seen as leading, as the lower courts seem to have thought, to the need for a legalistic exercise to decide whether individual policies do or do not come within the expression. The important question is not how to define individual policies, but whether the result is a five-year supply in accordance with the objectives set by paragraph 47. If there is a failure in that respect, it matters not whether the failure is because of the inadequacies of the policies specifically concerned with housing provision, or because of the over-restrictive nature of other non-housing policies. The shortfall is enough to trigger the operation of the second part of paragraph 14. As the Court of Appeal recognised, it is that paragraph, not paragraph 49, which provides the substantive advice by reference to which the development plan policies and other material considerations relevant to the application are expected to be assessed.
60 The Court of Appeal was therefore right to look for an approach which shifted the emphasis to the exercise of planning judgment under paragraph 14. However, it was wrong, with respect, to think that to do so it was necessary to adopt a reading of paragraph 49 which not only changes its language, but in doing so creates a form of non-statutory fiction. On that reading, a non-housing policy which may objectively be entirely up-to-date, in the sense of being recently adopted and in itself consistent with the Framework, may have to be treated as notionally “out-of-date” solely for the purpose of the operation of paragraph 14.
61 There is nothing in the statute which enables the Secretary of State to create such a fiction, nor to distort what would otherwise be the ordinary consideration of the policies in the statutory development plan; nor is there anything in the NPPF which suggests an intention to do so. Such an approach seems particularly inappropriate as applied to fundamental policies like those in relation to the Green Belt or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. No one would naturally describe a recently approved Green Belt policy in a local plan as “out-of-date”, merely because the housing policies in another part of the plan fail to meet the NPPF objectives. Nor does it serve any purpose to do so, given that it is to be brought back into paragraph 14 as a specific policy under footnote 9. It is not “out of date”, but the weight to be given to it alongside other material considerations, within the balance set by paragraph 14, remains a matter for the decision-maker in accordance with ordinary principles.” (Lord Carnwath JSC)
St Modwen Developments Ltd  EWHC 968 (Admin), Ouseley J
‘I agree with the Inspector that the NPPF does not require housing needs to be assessed always and only by reference to the area of the development control authority.’ 
William Davis Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 3058 (Admin) Lang J
James Maurici KC appeared for the Secretary of State
NPPF 49 did not apply to a local plan policy, since it did not relate to the supply of housing, even though it had the potential to restrict housing development.
It is an error for NPPF 49 to be applied to policies which do not relate to housing 
Cotswold DC v SSCLG  EWHC 3719 (Admin), Lewis J
Policies which restrict development, including housing development, can be disapplied to the extent that they restrict housing development. Such policies can be ‘policies for the supply of housing’, even if they restrict the supply of housing. 
South Northamptonshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 4377 (Admin), Lewis J
Stephen Whale appeared for the Secretary of State
“Secondly, there would still be the question, even if paragraph 24 of the decision was intended to apply to EV2 and G2, as to whether or not they were housing supply policies for the purposes of paragraph 49 of the National Framework. On the one hand, there are policies such as the Local Plan Policy 19 that was in force in Cotswold District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor  EWHC 3719 (Admin). That policy dealt with development outside development boundaries and dealt with new-builds and other matters if the authority were to allow housing outside the development boundary area. The policy applied to all developments, housing and other developments, and in Cotswold the inspector and the court considered that, to the extent that that policy restricted housing development, it was a housing supply policy for the purposes of paragraph 49.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have the kind of green wedge policy that arose in William Davis Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Governments & North West Leicestershire District Council  EWHC 3058 (Admin). That was a policy that said the undeveloped character of a particular area should effectively be preserved and development would not be permitted. Lang J in that case considered that that policy was not a housing supply policy for the purposes of paragraph 49 of the Framework for the reasons that she gave at paragraph 47 of her judgment.
Turning to EV2 and G2 here, G2 is a policy that says:
“Provision will be made for new development to be concentrated in Towcester, Brackley and closely related to the Northampton Borough boundary. New development will be limited in the villages and severely restrained in the open countryside.”
In my judgment, that is a housing supply policy within the meaning of paragraph 49 of the National Framework. It applies to residential development and other forms of development, but to the extent that it seeks to restrict housing development and to concentrate it in Towcester, Brackley and other areas, it is on the Cotswold District Council side of the line and falls within the scope of paragraph 49 of the National Framework.
Policy EV2 is somewhere between the Cotswold case and the Davis case. That policy says that “planning permission will not be granted for development in the open countryside”, although certain exceptions are then made.” [31-34]
Langton Homes Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 487 (Admin), Foskett J
Sasha Blackmore appeared for the Secretary of State
Foskett J rejected an argument by the Claimant to the effect that an Inspector was wrong to conclude that the policies of a Local Plan were up to date, just because a 5-year housing land supply could be shown, thus neutralising the presumption in favour of sustainable development in NPPF 14.
“The inter-relationship between paragraph 49 and paragraph 14 of the NPPF will depend upon the circumstances of the individual planning application judged by reference to the local planning context as it relates to the NPPF. A demonstrable lack of a 5-year supply of housing land might well demand the more forceful application of the presumption referred to in paragraph 14, whereas an alleged shortfall that cannot be demonstrated will not necessarily neutralise the application of that paragraph, but will demand less of an emphasis upon it depending on other material considerations. But whether that analysis is or is not correct, what the Inspector decided here was that the 5-year supply of housing land was demonstrated (or at least the converse was not demonstrated) and that, accordingly, she was entitled (and indeed obliged) to give some weight to the existing policies … It was for her to give such weight to this as she thought fit and it is not for the court to interfere with that assessment.” 
South Northamptonshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 573 (Admin), Ouseley J
Stephen Whale appeared for the Secretary of State
Whether or not a local plan policy is a ‘housing’ policy for the purposes of NPPF 49 is a matter of planning judgment, so long as the Inspector directs themselves correctly as to the scope of NPPF 49. 
The Inspector had not erred:
“That phraseology [policy “for the supply of housing”] is either very narrow and specific, confining itself simply to policies which deal with the numbers and distribution of housing, ignoring any other policies dealing generally with the location of development or areas of environmental restriction, or alternatively it requires a broader approach which examines the degree to which a particular policy generally affects housing numbers, distribution and location in a significant manner. 
“It is my judgment that the language of the policy cannot sensibly be given a very narrow meaning. This would mean that policies for the provision of housing which were regarded as out of date, nonetheless would be given weight, indirectly but effectively through the operation of their counterpart provisions in policies restrictive of where development should go. Such policies are the obvious counterparts to policies designed to provide for an appropriate distribution and location of development. They may be generally applicable to all or most common forms of development, as with EV2, stating that they would not be permitted in open countryside, which as here could be very broadly defined. Such very general policies contrast with policies designed to protect specific areas or features, such as gaps between settlements, the particular character of villages or a specific landscape designation, all of which could sensibly exist regardless of the distribution and location of housing or other development.” 
NPPF 14, along with NPPF 49, provide no comfort to Local Planning Authorities which allow their development plans to become stale. 
Hopkins Homes Ltd  EWHC 132 (Admin), Supperstone J
Christopher Lockhart-Mummery KC appeared for the Claimant
“I accept Mr Lockhart-Mummery’s submission that the error made by the Inspector was not so much a failure to give reasons, as a misinterpretation and misapplication of paragraph 49 of the NPPF in relation to policies in the Local Plan. The sole judgment to which the Inspector had regard was Davis in respect of which he noted “it was held that paragraph 14 of the Framework only applies to development which has been found to be sustainable” (DL6). However none of the later cases followed the approach adopted by the learned judge in Davis . I agree with Mr Lockhart-Mummery that SP29 is the equivalent to Policy EV2 in Barwood Land . Following the analysis of Ouseley J in that case, with which I agree, I consider that the Inspector did misinterpret NPPF paragraph 49 in the present case.” 
Crane v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 425 (Admin), Lindblom J
“As Ms Lieven and Mr Smyth submit, neither paragraph 49 of the NPPF nor paragraph 14 prescribes the weight to be given to policies in a plan which are out of date. Neither of those paragraphs of the NPPF says that a development plan whose policies for the supply of housing are out of date should be given no weight, or minimal weight, or, indeed, any specific amount of weight. One can of course infer from paragraph 49 of the NPPF that in the Government’s view the weight to be given to out of date policies “for the supply of housing” will normally be less, often considerably less, than the weight due to policies which provide fully for the requisite supply. As I have said, Mr Hill points, for example, to an expression used by Males J. in paragraph 20 of his judgment in Tewkesbury Borough Council – “little weight” – when referring to “relevant policies” that are “out of date”. In Grand Union Investments Ltd. (at paragraph 78) I endorsed a concession made by counsel for the defendant local planning authority that the weight to be given to the “policies for housing development” in its core strategy would, in the circumstances of that case, be “greatly reduced” by the absence of a five-year supply of housing land. However, the weight to be given to such policies is not dictated by government policy in the NPPF. Nor is it, or could it be, fixed in the case law of the Planning Court. It will vary according to the circumstances, including, for example, the extent to which the policies actually fall short of providing for the required five-year supply, and the prospect of development soon coming forward to make up the shortfall.” 
Cheshire East Borough Council  EWHC 410 (Admin), Lang J
“The immediate context of paragraph 49 suggests that the Minister intended to refer to policies for the supply of housing rather than to any policy which may have the indirect effect of restricting housing development, such as a Green Gap policy. Section 6 of the NPPF is headed “Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes”. Paragraph 47 sets out the steps local planning authorities should take “to boost significantly the supply of housing ”, by inter alia ensuring that the policies in their Local Plan meet the full objectively assessed needs for housing in their area. The reference in paragraph 49 to the consequences of a failure to demonstrate five-year supply of deliverable housing sites follows on directly from the duty in paragraph 47 “to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing ”. In paragraph 47 the Minister is exhorting local planning authorities to adopt policies for the supply of housing, sufficient to provide five years worth of housing, and in paragraph 49 he sets out the consequences of a failure to comply with this exhortation.
I understand and endorse Ouseley J’s reasons for giving paragraph 49 a broader purposive interpretation. However, in my view, it is not open to inspectors to disregard the distinction he drew between general policies to restrict development and those policies designed to protect specific areas or features, as this goes to the heart of the meaning and purpose of paragraph 49, in the context of the NPPF as a whole and within its proper statutory context.
Obviously policies which restrict development in order to afford a Green Gap between settlements do restrict housing development in those areas. But the need for housing is not the only consideration in national planning policy. Looking at the NPPF more widely, protection and enhancement of the natural environment is identified as a key dimension of sustainable development which the planning system is intended to achieve: see paragraphs 7 and section 11 “Conserving and enhancing the natural environment”. It is acknowledged (at paragraph 156) that the Local Plan should have policies to deliver conservation of the natural environment, including landscape, and at paragraph 157, that Local Plans should identify land where development would be inappropriate. Therefore it seems unlikely that the Minister intended local policies protecting the environment or identifying areas where development would be inappropriate to be treated as out-of-date, solely on the ground that their indirect effect was to restrict the supply of housing in those areas, without consideration of their wider planning purpose and value.” -
“The purpose of paragraph 49 was to prompt local planning authorities into updating their Local Plans, and meeting the housing supply requirements in paragraph 47. Unfortunately, the process of adopting a new Local Plan is often a lengthy one, as demonstrated in Cheshire East — perhaps longer than the Minister anticipated when drafting the NPPF.” 
“The court has on several occasions considered what paragraph 49 of the NPPF means when it refers to “policies for the supply of housing” (see, for example, the judgment of Lang J. in William Davis Ltd. v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 3058 (Admin) , at paragraph 47; the judgment of Lewis J. in Cotswold District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 3719 (Admin) , at paragraph 30; the judgment of Ouseley J. in South Northamptonshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 573 (Admin) , at paragraphs 44 to 47; and the judgment of Supperstone J. in Hopkins Homes Ltd. v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 132 (Admin) , at paragraph 38). Both a narrow view and a broader view have been favoured. I prefer the broader. As Ouseley J. said in paragraph 46 of his judgment in South Northamptonshire Council , the concept is “either very narrow and specific, confining itself simply to policies which deal with the numbers and distribution of housing, ignoring any other policies dealing generally with the location of development or areas of environmental restriction, or alternatively it requires a broader approach which examines the degree to which the particular policy generally affects housing numbers, distribution and location in a significant manner”. Ouseley J. went on to say, at paragraph 47, that in his view the language of paragraph 49 of the NPPF “cannot sensibly be given a very narrow meaning”. Otherwise, policies for the provision of housing which were not up to date might have their weight restored by “counterpart provisions in policies restrictive of where development should go”. But Ouseley J. accepted, at paragraph 48, that once the decision-maker had properly directed himself on the scope of paragraph 49 of the NPPF, the question of whether a particular policy fell within it was “very much a matter for his planning judgment”. I agree.” 
Wenman v SSCLG  EWHC 925 (Admin), Lang J
Stephen Whale appeared for the Secretary of State
“I do not consider that the words “housing applications” in paragraph 49 NPPF should be interpreted narrowly so as to be restricted to applications for planning permission to construct “bricks and mortar” houses. “Housing application” is not a statutory term under section 55(1) TCPA 1990. Nor is it defined in the NPPF. Whilst I appreciate that a caravan or a mobile home would not usually be described as a “house”, planning policies are not to be interpreted as if they were statutes or contracts (Tesco Stores Limited v Dundee City Council supra). As I have explained above, I consider that section 6 NPPF is intended to cover homes and dwellings, in a broad sense, and it would be inconsistent with that interpretation if an application for planning permission for a mobile home was excluded from the scope of paragraph 49.” 
“The purpose of paragraph 49 is partly to incentivise local planning authorities to provide the requisite 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites and partly to assist applicants in obtaining planning permission for housing in areas where the supply of housing is insufficient. It is only triggered by a failure to demonstrate the supply of housing sites other than pitches on traveller sites.
Applicants for planning permission for mobile homes or caravans, whether they be gypsies, travellers or others, may wish to rely on the failure of the local planning authority to demonstrate a 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites in support of their application for planning permission. In principle, paragraph 49 enables them to do so. But in deciding which policies for the supply of housing are relevant to the application for planning permission, the decision-maker will be entitled to consider whether, and to what extent, a policy for the supply of housing, other than for pitches on traveller sites, has any relevance to the application before him, and if so, what weight should be accorded to it in the particular circumstances of the case.” [45-46]
“The Courts have considered and applied the phrase “policies for the supply of housing” in paragraph 49 NPPF on several occasions.
The leading case is South Northamptonshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Ors  EWHC 573 (Admin). Ouseley J. held that a policy which stated planning permission would not be granted for development in the open countryside, subject to certain exceptions, was a policy for the supply of housing within paragraph 49 NPPF. In considering the proper interpretation of paragraph 49 NPPF he said:
“46. [The] phraseology is either very narrow and specific, confining itself simply to policies which deal with the numbers and distribution of housing, ignoring any other policies dealing generally with the location of development or areas of environmental restriction, or alternatively it requires a broader approach which examines the degree to which a particular policy generally affects housing number, distribution and location in a significant manner.
47. It is my judgment that the language of the policy cannot sensibly be given a very narrow meaning. This would mean that policies for the provision of housing which were regarded as out of date, nonetheless would be given weight, indirectly but effectively though the operation of their counterpart provisions in policies restrictive of where development should go. Such policies are the obvious counterparts to policies designed to provide for an appropriate distribution and location of development. They may be generally applicable to all or most common forms of development, as with EV2, stating that they would not be permitted in open countryside, which as here could be very broadly defined. Such very general policies contrast with policies designed to protect specific areas or features, such as gaps between settlements, the particular character of villages, or a specific landscape designation, all of which could sensibly exist regardless of the distribution and location of housing or other development.”
Other policies which have been held by the courts to be policies for the supply of housing within paragraph 49 of the NPFF either expressly address housing or are general policies restricting development, and so come within Ouseley J’s first category:
a) Cotswold District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor  EWHC 3719 (Admin), Lewis J. A policy which restricted development outside development boundaries, and dealt with new-builds and other matters if the authority was to allow housing outside the development boundary, was a policy for the supply of housing within paragraph 49.
b) Hopkins Homes Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Ors  EWHC132 (Admin), Supperstone J. A policy which restricted new development outside the physical limits of settlements, subject to exceptions, was a policy for the supply of housing within paragraph 49.
52. Cases which fall within Ouseley J’s second category are:
a) William Davis Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor  EWHC 3058 (Admin), in which I decided that a Green Wedge policy, intended to prevent the merging of settlements and preserve open space, was not a policy for the supply of housing within paragraph 49.
b) Cheshire East Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor  EWHC 410 (Admin) in which I decided that a Green Gap policy, intended to maintain the separation between settlements, and to prevent development which would erode the gaps between settlements and adversely affect the character of the landscape, was not a policy for the supply of housing within paragraph 49.” [49-52]
Woodcock Holdings Ltd  EWHC 1173 (Admin), Holgate J
Christopher Boyle KC appeared for the Claimant
“Mr. Honey for the Secretary of State accepted that the trigger in paragraph 49 applies just as much to “housing supply policies” in a neighbourhood plan which has been “made” (i.e. formally adopted) as to other types of statutory development plan. In my judgment that must be correct.” 
Paragraph 49 appears in the section of the NPPF (paragraphs 47 to 55) devoted to “delivering a wide choice of high quality homes”. The overall objective of paragraph 47 is “to boost significantly the supply of housing”. The first requirement is for local planning authorities “to use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in this Framework…”. The second requirement, to identify and update annually a 5 year supply of deliverable housing land, is set out in paragraph 18 of this judgment. The third requirement is that the authorities should “identify a supply of specific, developable sites or broad locations for growth, for years 6 — 10 and, where possible, for years 11 — 15”. Fourthly, local planning authorities must illustrate the expected rate of housing delivery (both for market and affordable housing) “through a housing trajectory for the plan period and set out a housing implementation strategy for the full range of housing detailing how they will maintain delivery of a five-year supply of housing land to meet their housing target”. Thus, it is plain that national policy attaches considerable importance to local planning authorities being able to identify a 5 year supply of housing land to meet properly assessed housing needs on an ongoing basis.” 
“In my judgment it would be inappropriate to treat paragraph 49 as restricting the circumstances in which national policy lends additional support to a housing proposal because of the lack of a 5 year supply of land, to cases where the “relevant policies for the supply of housing” are contained in statutory, but not draft, development plans. Such a change in national policy regarding the importance of maintaining a 5 year supply of housing land would require explicit language to that effect (see by analogy Redhill Aerodrome Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  PTSR 274 paragraph 16). I am reinforced in that view by the “radical change” introduced by the NPPF which gives greater, not less, emphasis to meeting housing needs.” 
“As I have said, the first key phrase in paragraph 49, “relevant policies for the supply of housing”, is not limited to relevant policies in the statutory development plan. The language is capable of referring to policies in a draft development plan. It is also capable of referring to policies in a statutory development plan which as a matter of fact is up to date because that plan has only recently been adopted. Thus, the second key phrase, “should not be considered up-to-date”, operates as a deeming provision which treats the relevant policies as being out of date so as to engage “the presumption in favour of sustainable development” (the third key phrase in paragraph 49). Plainly, the object is to increase the likelihood of planning permission being granted for a housing proposal where a 5 year supply does not exist, by applying a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, subject to taking into account all other material considerations in a particular case, whether they tell in favour of or against the grant of planning permission, or are neutral.” 
“It is important to keep in mind the essential differences between the distinct activities of development plan-making on the one hand and development control decision-making on the other, and between the policies of the NPPF relating respectively to those two activities. We are concerned here with a development control decision. The inspector was not conducting an examination of a local plan. He was making a decision, on appeal, on an application for planning permission for housing development. How did the policies in those paragraphs of the NPPF bear on that exercise?” 
“The question here is whether in circumstances of the kind that arose in this case, where the relevant housing market area extended beyond the council’s administrative area, it was permissible, in principle, for the inspector to identify the relevant housing requirements at the level he did, on the basis of the identifiable, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing within that administrative area – having regard, of course, to all the material before him, including the Strategic Housing Market Assessment.
It is argued on behalf of the Secretary of State that the answer to that question is unequivocally and inevitably “Yes”. I agree. It is also submitted that a decision-maker in a case such as this is not necessarily obliged to accept an apportionment – or distribution – of housing need “ascribed” in a Strategic Housing Market Assessment between different administrative areas in the housing market area. Again, I agree. A decision-maker in these circumstances may of course draw upon a Strategic Housing Market Assessment in seeking to fix the appropriate level of housing need against which to set the supply of deliverable housing sites. But he must not adopt a housing requirement below the full, unconstrained housing needs in the relevant area. He should not, for example, adopt a level of need for market or affordable housing that is, in truth, the product of a conscious redistribution of need from one local planning authority’s area to another where this is effectively – in the inelegant jargon – an untested “policy on” decision, liable to be revisited and changed in a subsequent local plan process. Otherwise, he will likely fall into the kind of error that undid the inspector’s decision in Hunston Properties Ltd. – where the inspector made the mistake of using “a figure for housing requirements below the full objectively assessed needs figure until such time as the Local Plan process came up with a constrained figure” (paragraph 26 of Sir David Keene’s judgment).” -
“There may be many good reasons for an inspector in a case such as this to hesitate before accepting an apportionment of housing needs between two or more local planning authorities’ areas in a Strategic Housing Market Assessment. Considerations relevant to such a distribution of need may include, Mr Taylor submitted, the implications for transport infrastructure, the sustainability of a significant proportion of the population in one area commuting to and from work in another, the provision of affordable housing where it is needed, and various demographic, economic and social consequences of migration within the housing market area. Such considerations will influence planning policy, and will usually require formal co-operation between local planning authorities – as is now statutorily required under section 33A of the 2004 Act – as well as discussion in the statutory process of plan-making. The issues to which they give rise are inherently unsuitable for resolution at an inquiry into an appeal under section 78 of the 1990 Act.” 
“[Satnam Millennium Limited v Warrington Borough Council  EWHC 370 (Admin)] says nothing about the approach a decision-maker should take in a case where housing needs fall to be assessed in the absence of a local plan complying with policy for plan-making in the NPPF. It does not touch the reasoning in this court’s decision in Hunston Properties Ltd.” 
“There is, logically, no inconsistency between, on the one hand, the “full, objectively assessed needs” for housing in a housing market area wider than a single administrative area, when determined under the policies for plan-making in paragraphs 47 and 159 of the NPPF, and, on the other, the housing requirement for a local planning authority’s own area within that housing market area, when determined for the purposes of the policy for development control in paragraph 49 in the manner indicated by this court in Hunston Properties Ltd. . They do not have to be the same. NPPF policy allows them to be different.” 
Daventry DC  EWHC 3459 (Admin), Lang J
“It follows that if a planning authority is able to demonstrate a five year supply, its policies are not to be treated out-of date for this purpose. Importantly, a planning authority is entitled to decide for itself the locations to which it allocates its housing supply, consistently with national and local policy.” 
“The sole focus of NPPF 49 is the supply of deliverable housing sites, pursuant to the policy in NPPF 47. In contrast, NPPF 215 has a much broader ambit, which requires assessment of the extent to which the saved policies are consistent with all NPPF policies, including policies for the protection of the natural environment and policies favouring development in settlements, brownfield sites, sustainable locations etc. and not in the countryside.” 
Edward Ware Homes Ltd  EWHC 103 (Admin), Holgate J
“Although the Claimant accepts that Crane and Woodcock correctly interpreted the NPPF, its argument under ground 6 effectively contends that where a 5-year supply cannot be demonstrated, paragraph 49 does not simply provide a trigger to engage paragraph 14, but creates an irrefutable presumption that all housing supply policies are out-of-date when their weight comes to be assessed. An irrefutable presumption of that nature makes no sense whatsoever given that it is the decision-maker’s task to assess the weight to be given to the housing supply policies, including any housing distribution policy. The weight to be attributed to a policy must be capable of including a decision-maker’s assessment as to whether the justification for and terms of that policy continue to be sound.” 
Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes Ltd and SSCLG; Richborough Estates Partnership LLP v Cheshire East BC and SSCLG  EWCA Civ 168, Jackson, Vos and Lindblom LJJ
Christopher Lockhart-Mummery KC appeared for Hopkins Homes Ltd
“The contentious words are “[relevant] policies for the supply of housing”. IN our view the meaning of those words, construed objectively int heir proper context, is “relevant policies affecting the supply of housing”. This corresponds to the “wider” interpretation, which was advocated on behalf of the Secretary of State in these appeals. Not only is this a literal interpretation of the policy in paragraph 49; it is, we believe, the only interpretation consistent with the obvious purpose of the policy when read in its context. A “relevant” policy here is simply a policy relevant to the application for planning permission before the decision-maker – relevant either because it is a policy relating specifically to the provision of new housing in the local planning authority’s area or because it bears upon the principle of the site in question being developed for housing. The meaning of the phrase “for the supply” is also, we think, quite clear. The word “for” is one of the more versatile prepositions in the English language. It has a large number of common meanings. These include, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd edition (revised), “affecting, with regard to, or in respect of”. A “supply” is simply a “stock or amount of something supplied or available for use” – again, the relevant definition in the Oxford Dictionary of English. The “supply” with which the policy is concerned, as the policy in paragraph 49 says, is a demonstrable “five-year supply of deliverable housing site”. Interpreting the policy in this way does not strain the natural and ordinary meaning of the words its draftsman has used. It does not violence at all to the language. On the contrary, it is to construe the policy exactly as it is written.
Our interpretation of the policy does not confine the concept of “policies for the supply of housing” merely to polciies in the development plan that provide positively for the delivery of new housing in terms of numbers and distribution or the allocation of sites. It recognizes that the concept extends to plan policies whose effect is to influence the supply of housing land by restricting the locations where new housing may be developed – including, for example, policies for the Green Belt, policies for the general protection of the countryside, policies for conserving the landscape of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks, policies for the conservation of wildlife or cultural heritage, and various policies whose purpose is to protect the local environment in one way or another by preventing or limiting development. It reflects the reality that policies may serve to form the supply of housing land either by creating it or by constraining it – that policies of both kinds make the supply what it is.
The “narrow” interpretation of the policy, in which the words “[relevant] policies for the supply of housing” are construed as meaning “[relevant] policies providing for the amount and distribution of new housing development and the allocation of sites for such development”, or something like that, is in our view plainly wrong. It is both unrealistic and inconsistent with the context in which the policy takes its place. It ignores the fact that in every development plan there will be policies that complement or support each other. Some will promote development of one type or another in a particular location, or by allocating sites for particular land uses, including the development of housing. Others will reinforce the policies of promotion or the site allocations by restricting development in parts of the plan area, either in a general way – for example, by preventing development in the countryside or outside defined settlement boundaries – or with a more specific planning purpose – such as protecting the character of the landscape or maintaining the separation between settlements.
Restrictive policies, whether broadly framed or designed for some more specific purpose, may – we stress “may” – act against the Government’s policy of boosting significantly the supply of housing land. If a local planning authority is unable to demonstrate the requisite five-year supply of housing land, both the policies of its local plan that identify sites for housing development and policies restrictive of such development are liable to be regarded as not “up-to-date” under paragraph 49 of the NPPF – and “out-of-date” under paragraph 14. Otherwise, government policy for the delivery of housing might be undermined by decisions in which development plan policies that impede a five-year supply of housing land are treated as “up-to-date”.
“We therefore reject the “intermediate” or “compromise” interpretation of paragraph 49. Like the “narrow” interpretation, it fails to recognize that it is the effect of certain policies – whether general or specific – in restricting housing development and preventing an authority from demonstrating a “five-year supply of deliverable housing sites” that brings them within the scope of the policy in paragraph 49.” -, 
“We ought to say…that those cases in which the court has rejected the “wider” interpretation of the policy have not in our view been correctly decided on that particular point. Of the cases cited to us… this may be said of the decision in William Davis, where the judge concluded that a policy restricting development in a “Green Wedge”… was not a relevant policy for the supply of housing within paragraph 49, despite the fact that it prevented housing development on the appeal site… We should add, however, that the judge did not have the benefit fo all the submissions we have heard on this point, or of the later decisions in which it has been considered. In Wenman the judge appears to have accepted that two policies of a local plan dealing respectively with the “Environmental Implications of Development” and “Design and Layout”… were not policies for the supply of housing, because they were not “general” restrictions on development and fell within the second kind of restrictive policy referred to by Ouseley J. in paragraph 48 of his judgment in Barwood Land… But that distinction between two kinds of policy restrictive of housing development is not a dividing line between policies that are “for the supply of housing” and those that are not… Again, however, we would add that the judge did not have the advantage of the argument we have heard. It also seems to us that the erroneous interpretation of the policy in paragraph 49 of the NPPF made no difference t the outcome of the proceedings because the two local plan policies in question were not, in fact, restrictive of housing development in either of the two respects identified by Ouseley J. in Barwood Land.” 
“Whether a particular policy of the plan, properly understood, is a relevant policy “for the supply of housing” in the sense we have described is not a question for the court. It is… a question for the decision-maker. Provided the decision-maker acts on the correct understanding of the policy in paragraph 49 of the NPPF, and also on the correct understanding of the development plan policy in question, these being matters for the court, it is for him to judge whether the plan policy is or is not a relevant policy for the supply of housing. …
We must emphasize here that the policies in paragraphs 14 and 49 of the NPPF do not make “out0of-date” policies for the supply of housing irrelevant tin the determination of a planning application or appeal. Nor do they prescribe how much weight should be given to such policies in the decision. …” -
“In a case such as this, where there is a choice of two figures relied on by the parties, both of which can be criticised, but which address both ends of the possible range, neither NPPF nor the judicial authority cited above, prevent an Inspector from reaching a judgement on the issue by asking whether, when measured against either figure, there would be a benefit in planning terms in granting permission. In this case no-one suggested that the requirement figure would be below the lower figure, so using both figures to test delivery rates was a sensible way of dealing with the issue. If this were a site where there were significant objections to development, and a real issue on whether its contribution to housing provision would be beneficial, it may be that a more thorough analysis would have been required, subject always to the actual context of the actual decision in question. That is a matter to be decided on a case by case basis. But there is nothing in either St Albans v Hunston per Sir David Keene nor in Kings Lynn v SSCLG per Dove J which prevents an Inspector from adopting a sensible and pragmatic approach of testing whether, on the lower “needs” figure, there would still be advantage in the grant of permission for housing, and especially not on a site to whose development there was no sustainable objection otherwise.” 
Shropshire Council  EWHC 2733 (Admin), Lang J
“Inspectors generally will be required to make judgments about housing needs and supply. However, these will not involve the kind of detailed analysis which would be appropriate at a Development Plan inquiry. The Inspector at a planning appeal is only making judgments based on the material before him in the particular case, which may well be imperfect. He is not making an authoritative assessment which binds the local planning authority in other cases.” 
“I consider that NPPF 49 requires the Inspector to make his own judgment on the equation between housing needs and housing supply based upon the relevant evidence provided by the local planning authority and any other party to the inquiry. I also accept the Claimant’s submission that, in a case where housing needs and supply are in play, the extent of any shortfall in housing supply may well be relevant to the balancing exercise required under NPPF 14…” 
Hallam Land Management Ltd  EWHC 2865 (Admin), Supperstone J
Zack Simons appeared for the Secretary of State
“I do not accept that the authorities to which Mr Hill refers (at paras 16-18 above) require the decision maker “to determine a workable 5YHLS or range” in every case. In a case such as the present where there was inadequate housing supply on either sides’ figures, I agree with Mr Zack Simons, who appears for the Secretary of State, and Mr Paul Stinchcombe [K]C, who appears for the Council, that the Secretary of State was not required to fix a figure for the extent of that inadequacy.” 
Gladman Developments Ltd  EWHC 128 (Admin), Dove J
“29. Firstly, the fact that there was a large difference between the competing analyses of the Claimant and the second Defendant did not prevent, or make inappropriate, the Inspector using the evidence at his disposal in order to reach a conclusion on this key issue. In just the same way as both the Claimant and the Second Defendant had to make judgements and justify assumptions in presenting their evidence on this issue, so the Inspector was perfectly capable of undertaking the same exercise himself. Indeed, in reading the reasons which he provides in respect of this issue in the decision letter it appears as though he has gone some way to arriving at conclusions in respect of the various contested elements of the analysis: the scale of the difference between the parties in the final analysis is not a coherent basis for not pressing those judgements to a conclusion.
30. Secondly, the fact that the Local Plan Inspector was undertaking an examination and was also looking at the five-year housing land supply position of the second Defendant was not a reason for the Inspector taking the decision on this appeal to fail to reach a conclusion on the five year housing land supply position. Any conclusion which the Inspector reached would necessarily be one taken at a particular point in time on the basis of the evidence then available. It would not be in any way binding on the Local Plan Inspector or prejudicial to that Inspectors’ conclusions.
31. Thirdly, the fact that the Inspector was in any event applying the tilted balance does not engage with the further reasons why the calculation of the five-year housing land supply was relevant and provided material to be taken into account in the planning balance as set out above. The fact that the tilted planning balance was being deployed did not render it unnecessary for account to be taken of the extent of any additional weight to be afforded to the benefit of the provision of housing from an examination of the extent of any shortfall in the housing land supply, or diminish the need to assess the extent of the weight to be applied to policy conflict if the Second Defendant could not identify a five-year supply of housing. In short, by deploying this reason, the Inspector clearly overlooked the potential materiality of any shortfall to other elements of the planning balance, as opposed to the formula for that balance which had to be used.”
San Investments Ltd  EWHC 2830 (Admin), Green J
“Paragraph  provides that the authority should “normally” approve applications for change to residential use. It thereby creates a presumption in favour of change. All that has to be established in order to trigger the presumption is that there is “an identified need for additional housing” in the area. Where that pre-condition prevails the presumption applies and is only rebutted where there are “strong economic reasons why such development would be inappropriate” which, as drafted, is not intended to be easily involved (hence the word “strong”). The momentum implicit in paragraph  is, evidently, in favour of approval of a change of use.”
R (Embleton Parish Council) v Northumberland County Council  EWHC 3631 (Admin), HHJ Behrens
Sasha White LC appeared for the Defendant
“the guidance in paragraph 55 of NPPF is significantly less onerous than in PPS7” 
There is no requirement that a proposal be economically viable .
Baroness Cumberlege of Newick  EWHC 2057 (Admin), John Howell KC
Heather Sargent appeared for the Claimant
“One way in which the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside is thus recognised in the NPPF is the well-known advice given (in paragraph ) that “local authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances such as” those listed in that paragraph. Accordingly in my judgment it cannot be considered irrational to regard a policy that was designed (as the explanatory text stated) “to identify the area beyond the boundaries where development would normally be unacceptable unless it is for uses compatible with the countryside” as being out-of-date merely because the NPPF directs specific protection to Green Belts and valued landscapes and the planning boundary does not follow the boundaries of those areas.”  (footnote omitted)
Braintree DC  EWHC 2743 (Admin), Lang J
Gwion Lewis appeared for the Secretary of State
“24 The word “isolated” is not defined in the NPPF. I agree with the Defendants’ submission that “isolated” should be given its ordinary objective meaning of “far away from other places, buildings or people; remote” (Oxford Concise English Dictionary).
25 The immediate context is the distinction in NPPF 55 between “rural communities”, “settlements” and “villages” on the one hand, and “the countryside” on the other. This suggests that “isolated homes in the countryside” are not in communities and settlements and so the distinction between the two is primarily spatial/physical.
26 As to the broader context, in my judgment, NPPF 55 seeks to promote the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and to strike a balance between the core planning principles of “recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside” and “supporting thriving rural communities within it” (NPPF 17). The Claimant’s analysis of the policy context is far too narrow in scope.
27 The policy in favour of locating housing where it will “enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities” is not limited to economic benefits. The word “vitality” is broad in scope and includes the social role of sustainable development, described in NPPF 7 as “supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations”. The Claimant’s restriction of an “isolated home” to one that is isolated from services and facilities would deny policy support to a rural home that could contribute to social sustainability because of its proximity to other homes.
28 NPPF 55 cannot be read as a policy against development in settlements without facilities and services since it expressly recognises that development in a small village may enhance and maintain services in a neighbouring village, as people travel to use them. The PPG advises that “all settlements can play a role in delivering sustainable development in rural areas”, cross-referencing to NPPF 55, “and so blanket policies restricting housing development in some settlements and preventing other settlements from expanding should be avoided….”. Moreover, in rural areas, where public transport is limited, people may have to travel by car to a village or town to access services. NPPF 17 penultimate bullet point identifies as a core planning principle to “actively manage patterns of growth to make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling, and focus significant development in locations which are or can be made sustainable”. But as the PPG states, NPPF 29 and 34 recognise that the general policy in favour of locating development where travel is minimised, and use of public transport is maximised, has to be sufficiently flexible to take account of the differences between urban and rural areas. The scale of the proposed development may also be a relevant factor when considering transport and accessibility. As Mr Dagg rightly pointed out, the policy in NPPF 17 in favour of focusing development in locations which are or can be made sustainable applies in particular to “significant development”.”
“…the Inspector correctly applied NPPF 55 by concluding that, since the proposed new homes would be located on a road in a village where there were a number of dwellings nearby, it would not result in “new isolated homes in the countryside”.”