Case – Weight to be Given to pre-NPPF Plan materially same as No Weight

A case in Guildford countryside beyond the Green Belt. The policy in question was RE4. The officers report wrong (according to the Bloor and Sea & Land Cases) by saying as the plan was pre NPPF it should be given ‘no weight’. Their was no 5 year supply. Ash parish Council challenged teh appeal. They lost.  The court held though this was an error the decision would have been the same.  Thewir you have it in law where there is no 5 year supply the weight to be given to an adopted plan is materially the same as no weight.  Bye bye to the plan led system.

  1. Some of the wording in the report is undoubtedly infelicitous. The report also contains errors when it advises members that no weight should attach to RE4 because it pre-dates the NPPF. However, that is not the only advice which is given about the relationship of the policy with the NPPF. Other references deal with a lack of conformity other than simply because policy RE4 pre-dated the NPPF. To give the policy reduced weight was, therefore, correct on the basis of paragraph 215 of the NPPF. The report has to be construed as a whole and in the light of oral advice given at the committee meeting.

  2. Accordingly, policy RE4 was correctly identified as the relevant policy in the development plan non-compliance with which needed to be outweighed. The weight to be attached to it was reduced because of its non-conformity, in part, with the national policy in the NPPF. The defendant was, therefore, entitled to give it reduced weight. Having been through the evaluation of other material considerations to determine the planning balance the need for housing, in particular, was identified as a significant material consideration. The conclusion that the application should be granted permission as the adverse impacts of the proposed development did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits was one which the defendant was entitled to come to.

  3. In case their submissions were wrong the defendant and interested party both addressed the issue of discretion. Strictly, it is not necessary for me to do so given my finding on the main issue. For the sake of completeness though I do.

  4. It is clear that members had to have regard to the five-year supply of housing, or lack of it, within the borough. It is clear also that although there was harm to the character of the land that was clearly outweighed by the material consideration of housing supply. The application site was land that was envisaged as being suitable for longer term development needs. Because it was outside the Green Belt it was in one of the least constrained areas of the borough. If RE4 should have been given greater weight I am in no doubt that the eventual decision would have been the same. In the circumstances had it been appropriate to do so I would have exercised my discretion and refused relief.

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