A Court of Appeal judgement on the 17th of March has clarified how paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is to be applied.
The judgement related to two appeals, one a site in Willaston and the other a site in Yoxford. In both cases the inspector had to establish whether particular policies of the development plan relevant to the proposal were to be considered “up-to-date” under paragraph 49 of the NPPF, and if not, what the consequences for the decision should be.
Paragraph 49 of the NPPF states that ‘Housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites’
The Court of Appeal reflected on what policies of a local development plan should be considered in the context of paragraph 49 of the NPPF. It rejected the narrow interpretation of the paragraph, that it should apply only to policies that specifically refer to housing numbers and distribution. It instead concluded that a wider definition should be applied inclusive of policies that, though not specifically referring to housing would nonetheless serve to restrict development in certain locations, for example green belt policy and policies seeking to retain ‘green gaps’ between settlements.
This means that, in cases where a Local Authority is unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites all policies relating to the supply of housing including those that would restrict housing it certain locations may be considered out of date. However, the Court confirmed that it is a matter for the decision maker to determine if a policy is relevant and how much weight the policy should be given in the determination of the application.