Gold Guidance on DTC and Green Belt – It eats shoots and leaves

From new gold guidance.

The Duty to Cooperate requires authorities to work effectively on strategic planning matters that cross their administrative boundaries. The Duty to Cooperate is not a duty to agree and local planning authorities are not obliged to accept the unmet needs of other planning authorities if they have robust evidence that this would be inconsistent with the policies set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, for example polices on Green Belt or other environmental constraints.

Nice to see the my line highlighted in bold which seems to have become the de facto position used in PINS training and several inspectors reports,and now become de-jure.

But the second – well haven’t the courts pronounced on this on several occasions most notably the recent Hunston St Albans case, that Green Belt is not and never has been an environmental constraint but is rather a policy constraint as the environmental condition in land is not material to its designation.  The position that a number of LPAs have put forward that no strategic or otherwise green belt review is necessary because to do so is contrary to the NPPF ha always been rejected by inspectors post NPPF as in come cases housing need can be an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and plans need to make a policy choice in line with the NPPF about whether its current boundaries meet the NPPF tests including its green belt purposes.  In light of the Hunston case  sure you are aware Masarati Lawyer Peter village’s has intervened in Leeds where the plan/inspectors decision is threatened with JR by the HBF unless they adopt an extreme uber Sedgefield approach and release all green belt now to meet the backlog irrespective of phasing.

LPA may size on the last sentence and argue they no longer need to carry out strategic Green Belt reviews and resist all attempts at a ‘duty to expand’. But it will all end in tears in the courts as the last sentence is grammatically ambiguous as to what its subject it.  Is the subject the class of NPPF constraints policy constraints AND environmental constraints, or the class of all environmental constraints INCLUDING Green Belt. Because it is referring to the NPPF and implying it is unchanged both interpretations are logically possible.  It is to avoid such ambiguity that have commas; at this point the Panda eats shoots and leaves.  For lack of a comma, or perhaps a deliberately misplaced comma (after Green Belt) to prevent strategic Green Belt reviews –if only till after the next election, Nick Boles has subsidised Peter Village at taxpayer expense with another Maserati.  A few weeks down the road a clarification by the SOS will be needed it affects ongoing JRs and examinations.


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