Neighbourhood plan defeats development

Posted: 3rd May 2017

Housing development

Neighbourhood plans made under the Localism Act 2011 are a vital means of ensuring that the voices of local people are heard in the planning process. In a High Court case that underlined the point, a neighbourhood plan was instrumental in defeating plans for construction of up to 100 new homes in a county town.

In refusing consent for the development, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had unusually overruled one of his own planning inspectors who had recommended in favour of the proposals. In doing so, the Secretary of State emphasised that the plans conflicted with the local neighbourhood plan.

In challenging that decision as irrational, the would-be developer pointed out that the local authority did not have a five-year supply of housing land and that the need for more homes in the area was undisputed. The proposed site was in a sustainable location, as defined by the National Planning Policy Framework, and the Secretary of State had placed excessive weight on the neighbourhood plan.

Dismissing the appeal, however, the Court found that the Secretary of State was entitled to conclude that the plans did not meet the social element of sustainability. That element had the objective of promoting good governance and a strong, healthy and just society. The neighbourhood plan, a product of local democracy, had not been given undue weight and the Secretary of State had given adequate and intelligible reasons for substituting his own planning judgment for that of the inspector.

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