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Public law and Regulation

Case reports and guidance on public law and professional regulation issues

06 FEB 2014

R (on the application of Hunston Properties Limited) v St Albans Council [2013] EWCA Civ 1610; (2014) PLLR 012

National Planning Policy Framework - calculation of full objectively assessed housing needs - shortfall in housing land supply - Green Belt - very special circumstances

The full objective assessed needs for housing under paragraph 47 of the National Planning Policy Framework must be considered independently of any competing policies under the framework.   

12 December 2013

Court of Appeal

Maurice Kay, Ryder LJJ and Sir David Keene

(1)        The respondent applied for outline planning permission for the construction of a number of dwellings and a care home on an area of agricultural land within the district of St Albans. Permission was refused principally on the basis that the site was almost entirely within the Metropolitan Green Belt.

(2)        The respondent's challenge to the decision to refuse permission under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 was upheld by the Administrative Court. St Albans Council were given permission to appeal so that a proper interpretation of paragraph 47 of the National Planning Policy Framework could be given.

(3)        Sir David Keene (giving the judgement of the Court) held: (1) The Administrative Court was right to find that the inspector erred in law in the approach she took to calculate the housing requirement over the five year period. Paragraph 47 correctly interpreted requires the objectively assessed housing need to be determined without considering the other policies set out in the Framework. These other policies, such as protection of Green Belt land, become relevant in relation to the production of the Local Plan. The correct policy approach would have led to the conclusion that there was indeed a shortfall in housing land supply. (2) However, the ultimate question for the inspector is whether very special circumstances have been demonstrated to outweigh the Green Belt objection to development. A shortfall in housing land supply is one of a number of factors an inspector is entitled to take into account, which also include the context in which the shortfall is to be seen, a context which could include the extent of important planning constraints in the district as a whole. Where much of the undeveloped land in a district is subject to such planning constraints, there may be nothing very special about a shortfall in housing land supply.

Appeal dismissed

Key paragraphs

[1] - [3] - Introduction

[4] - [10] - Policy context

[11] - [16] - The planning appeal and the inspector's decision

[16] - [20] - The High Court Decision

[21] - [32] - Discussion

[33] - Conclusions

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