A presumption in favour - Mind the policy gap

1st March, 2014

Only thirty percent of Local Plans submitted to Government are currently accepted without amendment or modification. Rother District Council, East Hampshire District Council, South Downs National Park Authority and Bath and North East Somerset District Council are examples of Districts where examinations have been delayed. In the majority of cases it is due to Councils being unable to demonstrate an adequate supply of housing land.

Until new Local Plans are adopted, Councils must rely on existing local plan policies. Where these policies are not in conformity with the National Planning Policy Framework, they will be considered out of date and the presumption in favour of sustainable development will apply (unless the site is subject to special protection, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty). 

Whilst Councils have been reluctant to grant consent on the basis of this policy void or gap, many housing schemes have been successful at appeal. 

We have recently pursued successful appeals for major residential developments in Shepton Mallet, Hayling Island, Calne, Seven Oaks and Andover.

In the latter case, we relied in part on a comprehensive sustainability appraisal of the site, consistent with the definition of sustainable development in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Inspector concluded that Test Valley Borough Council was unable to demonstrate a sufficient supply of housing land and the Local Plan was deemed out-of-date. The Inspector considered that the site performed strongly against sustainability objectives in most respects, with the housing and economic benefits of the proposal carrying significant weight.

The combined impact of gaps in local planning policy and the application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development may help achieve the step change in housing delivery required to meet the country’s acute housing need