South Glos is behind target on it's 5 year plan - why this matters to us
You may have heard that South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) is falling behind its target for new house build, and that this is impacting decisions on new planning applications. All of this is true, but our Planners are not following the latest case law that insists the undersupply problem does not absolve them from balanced planning decision.
The issue is explained below:
SGC Local Planning Authority (LPA) is currently following a strict interpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that will make it almost impossible to turn down any speculative development planning application. However, the Court of Appeal on 17th March 2016 has ruled that the LPA must take into account wider considerations and must exercise their planning judgements, not rely solely on the NPPF.
NPPF para 47 requires LPAs to maintain “ .. a supply of … sites sufficient to provide five years’ worth of housing …” and goes on to say in para 49 that this plan “… should not be considered up to date if [the LPA] cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing…”. This is the so-called 5-year land supply problem against which SGC is currently falling short, partly because of developers deliberately delaying build once planning permission has been received in order to preserve the current shortfall situation.
If the plan is not considered “up to date” then para 14 of the NPPF says that planning consent must be given “unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”. This is an extremely hard test to pass and is at the heart of the reasons why local objections appear to be ignored. This is the so-called presumption in favour of sustainable development, and South Glos LPA has been advising the Council that they must follow this principle.
However, the NPPF is a Govt. policy, it is not the law, and an important judgement was reached by the Court of Appeal ruled on 17th March 2016 that LPAs must not hide behind this policy, and must apply their planning judgement which should take into account wider policies – in our case including those in the Core Strategy.
· NPPF is does not have absolute sway (as Developers have argued) – it is not law, only policy · The Core Strategy is still relevant even though it is out of date · Recent case law confirms that all factors must be weighed before arriving at a judgement. The Planners and Councillors are charged by the Court of Appeal to make the decision as to when the Core Strategy should have more weight than the NPPF · It should be possible to argue that the tipping point has already been reached, taking into account policies on landscape value, agricultural land, inadequate road, health and educational infrastructure