Hallam Land Management Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities And Local Government & Anor, Court of Appeal - Civil Division, July 31, 2018, [2018] EWCA Civ 1808

Resolution Date:July 31, 2018
Issuing Organization:Civil Division
Actores:Hallam Land Management Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities And Local Government & Anor
 
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Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWCA Civ 1808

Case No: C1/2017/3339

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

PLANNING COURT

MR JUSTICE SUPPERSTONE

[2017] EWHC 2865 (Admin)

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 31 July 2018

Before:

Lord Justice Davis

Lord Justice Lindblom

and

Lord Justice Hickinbottom

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Between:

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Mr Thomas Hill Q.C. and Ms Philippa Jackson (instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP)

for the Appellant

Mr Zack Simons (instructed by the Government Legal Department)

for the First Respondent

Mr Paul Stinchcombe Q.C. and Mr Ned Helme (instructed by Eastleigh Borough Council) for the Second Respondent

Hearing date: 3 May 2018

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Judgment Approved by the court or handing down (subject to editorial corrections)

Lord Justice Lindblom:

Introduction

  1. In deciding an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for housing development, how far does the decision-maker have to go in calculating the extent of any shortfall in the five-year supply of housing land? That is the central question in this appeal.

  2. With permission granted by Lewison L.J. on 6 March 2018, the appellant, Hallam Land Management Ltd., appeals against the order of Supperstone J., dated 16 November 2017, dismissing its application under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 by which it had challenged the decision of the first respondent, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in a decision letter dated 9 November 2016, dismissing an appeal under section 78 of the 1990 Act. The section 78 appeal was against the refusal by the second respondent, Eastleigh Borough Council, of outline planning permission for a development of up to 225 dwellings, a 60-bed care home and 40 care units, the provision of public open space and woodland, and improvements to Hamble Station, on land to the west of Hamble Lane, in Hamble.

  3. The site of the proposed development is about 23 hectares of pasture, on the Hamble Peninsula, between the Hamble River and Southampton Water. It is not within any settlement, nor allocated for development in the Eastleigh Borough Local Plan Review (2001-2011), adopted in 2006. The settlements of Bursledon, Netley and Hamble lie, respectively, to the north, the west and the south. Because it is in the ``countryside'', the site is protected by policy 1.CO of the local plan. And because it lies within the Bursledon, Hamble, Netley Abbey Local Gap, it also has the protection of policy 3.CO.

  4. An inquiry into the section 78 appeal was held by an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State on four days in June 2015. On 24 June 2015, the second day of the inquiry, the appeal was recovered by the Secretary of State, because it involved a proposal for ``residential development of over 150 units ... , which would significantly impact on the Government's objective to secure a better balance between housing demand and supply and create high quality, sustainable, mixed and inclusive communities''. In his report, dated 26 August 2015, the inspector recommended that the appeal be dismissed. The Secretary of State subsequently received a large number of further representations, some of them in response to letters he sent to the parties on 15 April 2016 and 29 June 2016. In those representations the Secretary of State received the parties' comments on two decisions of inspectors on appeals in which the supply of housing land in the council's area had been assessed - first, an appeal relating to a proposed development of up to 335 dwellings on land at Bubb Lane, Hedge End, which was dismissed on 24 May 2016, and secondly, an appeal relating to a proposed development of up to 100 dwellings on land at Botley Road, West End, which was allowed on 7 October 2016. In his decision letter on Hallam Land's appeal the Secretary of State largely agreed with the inspector's conclusions and accepted his recommendation.

  5. The challenge to the Secretary of State's decision was made on four grounds. The first and second grounds went to his failure - unlawfully, it was said - to ascertain the extent of the shortfall against the five-year housing land supply in the council's area, and to provide adequate reasons for his relevant conclusions. The third and fourth grounds asserted that his decision was inconsistent with the conclusions on housing land supply and the weight to be given to policy 3.CO in an inspector's report, dated 25 August 2016, in an appeal relating to a proposed development of up to 680 dwellings on land at Winchester Road, Boorley Green. Supperstone J. rejected all four grounds.

    The issues in the appeal

  6. The appeal before us raises two main issues:

    (1) given that the council could not demonstrate the requisite five-year supply of housing land under government policy in the first National Planning Policy Framework (``NPPF''), published in March 2012, whether the Secretary of State established the shortfall with sufficient precision, and whether his relevant reasons were adequate; and

    (2) whether the Secretary of State erred in law in deciding Hallam Land's appeal without having regard to the inspector's report on the Boorley Green appeal.

  7. These issues raise no question of law that has not already been amply dealt with in a series of cases on the meaning of relevant policies in the NPPF, and on the importance of consistency in planning decision-making.

    NPPF policy

  8. We are not concerned in this appeal with the policies in the revised NPPF, which was published on 24 July 2018. I shall refer only to the policies in the first NPPF, as if they were still extant.

  9. Paragraph 47 of the NPPF states:

    ``To boost significantly the supply of housing, local planning authorities should:

    ...

    · identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing against their housing requirements ...

    ...''.

    Paragraph 49 states:

    ``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.''

    Paragraph 14 contains the Government's policy for the ``presumption in favour of sustainable development''. It explains that:

    ``...

    For decision-taking this means:

    · approving development proposals that accord with the development plan without delay; and

    · where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date, granting permission unless:

    - any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or

    - specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.''

    The inspector's report

  10. In his report the inspector noted, under the heading ``The Case for the Council'', that the council ``acknowledge that they are not currently able to demonstrate a 5 year housing supply, as required by NPPF para 47'' (paragraph 22). It was the council's case, however, that ``the proposal is contrary to development plan policies which are not out of date, and is not the sustainable form of development for which there is a presumption in favour'', and that ``[even] if the presumption in NPPF para 14 was engaged, the negative aspects of the scheme, including the landscape impact and the loss of openness, would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits'' (paragraph 41).

  11. Summarizing the case for Hallam Land, under the heading ``The Case for the Appellants'', he referred (in paragraph 62) to the uncontested evidence of its planning witness, Mr Usher:

    ``62. The need for housing is demonstrated in Mr Usher's proof ... , which has not been challenged by the Council, and which reflects the conclusions of the Local Plan Examination that the draft is unsound for failing to make adequate provision. The Council accept that they cannot demonstrate a five year supply, the level being shown by the appellants to be 2.92 years, or 1.78 years if the need for affordable housing is included.''

    Because the council would ``not be able to meet its housing land requirements without the loss of significant areas of countryside...'', it was ``inevitable that there will be a change to the open and undeveloped character of such land''. This was ``not, of itself, an adequate ground to resist the development when there is no 5 year land supply, nor an up to date development plan'' (paragraph 65).

  12. In his conclusions the inspector identified the ``main issues'' as being ``i) the effect of the development on the character and appearance of the countryside and its role in separating settlements, and ii) whether any harm would be outweighed by the potential benefits of the development, including a supply of market and affordable housing, and the improvement of station facilities'' (paragraph 88).

  13. He said that ``[the] proposal would not fall within any of the specified uses in Local Plan policy 1.CO ...''. He concluded that there was ``no doubt that a development of this scale would diminish the Local Gap both physically and, to some degree, visually, contrary to policy 3.CO ...'', and that ``[in] these respects it would not comply with the development plan'' (paragraph 90). He went on to find that ``there are grounds to conclude that policy 1.CO may be regarded as out of date, but that there is not justification for giving any substantial reduction to the weight applied to policy 3.CO'' (paragraph 96).

  14. Under the heading ``The Benefits of the Proposal'' he noted that Hallam Land had particularly emphasized ``the supply of market and affordable housing to meet an acknowledged need, and the provision of facilities for...

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