An out-of-date Local Plan isn’t Carte Blanche for Development
In Gladman Developments Limited v Daventry District Council  EWCA Civ 1146 (“Daventry”) the Court of Appeal stressed the central theme of the NPPF to (re)emphasise the importance of plan-led decision making such that “significant weight should be given to the general public interest in having plan-led planning decisions, even if particular policies in the development plan are old”. The Court also stressed that, when considering the weight to be given to ‘old’ development plan policies, the degree of consistency with national policy is a very important factor.( 215 of the NPPF). The chronological age of the policies is ‘legally irrelevant’ to this question.
The impact of Daventry is demonstrated in a refusal by an Inspector of three proposed (and alternative) residential schemes on a site within a Local Green Gap between Clacton-on-Sea and Jaywick, Essex.
The inspector found the schemes would “fail to [maintain] separation between Clacton and Jaywick in this locality, and would effectively close the countryside gap between the settlements in this area” and therefore would be contrary to the Local Green Gap policy (Policy EN2). The Inspector refused the appeal despite it being common ground that the Local Planning Authority could not demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply and despite the fact that the LPA had previously promoted the site for housing development within the emerging Local Plan.
In doing so the Inspector recognised that although the Local Green Gap policy was old (it was adopted in 2007, and the plan period ran to 2011) its objectives were consistent with national policy and therefore its age provided no basis for substantially reducing the weight to be given to the policy. Furthermore, having regard to the decision in Hopkins Homes, the limited degree of the housing supply shortfall and recent improvements in the supply position due to action taken by the LPA meant that significant weight should be given to the Local Green Gap policy.
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