Does Your Local Authority Have An Adequate Supply of Housing Land?

Demand for new homes is overwhelming, but local authorities that have set aside an adequate supply of housing land for the future are in a much stronger position when it comes to blocking developments that they view as undesirable.

That point could hardly have been more clearly made than by one High Court case in which a council successfully challenged planning permission for a 46-unit housing development on the edge of a market town.

The council had refused consent for the project on the basis that it would have a serious and harmful impact on the openness of the area, which formed part of a strategic gap between the town and a nearby airport.

However, the would-be developer’s appeal was upheld by a government planning inspector who granted consent on the basis that the proposals were sustainable, within the meaning of the National Planning Policy Framework, and presented an opportunity for new housing that should be grasped.

In upholding the council’s appeal against that decision, the Court noted that it had in place a five-year supply of available housing land, or at least very close to it. The inspector’s approach was unorthodox and he failed to have adequate regard to local development plan policies that favoured maintenance of the strategic gap and concentration of new housing in existing urban areas. The inspector’s errors were not merely technical and the planning permission was quashed.