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Need for New Homes Important – But Not Always Decisive

Scaffolding on HouseThe ever increasing need for more homes in and around London is a vital factor in hundreds of planning decisions – but it is not necessarily decisive. This point was made by the High Court’s decision to block plans for 250 new homes on a Kent airfield.

The would-be developer argued that, as a matter of strategic policy, its proposals should be viewed as sustainable and beneficial in that the relevant local authority could not show that it had available a five-year supply of land for housebuilding.

However, the council refused planning consent on the basis that the project would harm the character of a neighbouring village, which was not in an area targeted for large-scale housing development. That decision was upheld by a planning inspector despite her recognition that a five-year supply of housing land, as required by the National Planning Police Framework (NPPF), had not been established.

In rejecting the developer’s appeal against that ruling, the Court described the inspector’s reasoning and interpretation of local and national planning policies as unimpeachable. The NPPF did not have the force of statute and the inspector was entitled to find that the substantial benefits of the proposals were significantly outweighed by the potential adverse impacts.