The Woodcock Holdings Case – The Neighbourhood Plan Bait and Switch Gets a Deathblow

The Neighbourhood Plan Bait and Switch will no longer work given

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The emarging Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common NP had set a housing cap, despite the OAN being disputed in the emerging local plan.  The court held that the issue of prematurity on whether the cap should be held until the EIP should not be the determining issue.

the Secretary of State did not assess whether the inclusion of any cap in draft policy H4 accorded with the NPPF, nor the strength of the objections made to the plan, particularly that policy’ (para .145)

  1. In my judgment, the policy in paragraph 216 of the NPPF should be read as a whole. It is not a policy which simply makes the trite point that decision-makers may give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans. Rather it is a policy that they may do so “according to” the three criteria or factors which follow. The policy clearly stipulates that the three criteria are relevant in each case. Of course, when dealing with a particular planning proposal it may be the case that the relevant policies in a draft plan have not attracted any objections and so it would not be necessary to consider the second criterion beyond that initial stage. But plainly the second criterion is material in each case in order to ascertain whether a relevant draft policy has attracted any objections and if so, their nature, before going on to make an assessment of the significance of any such objections….It follows that if the Secretary of State had applied the second and third criteria in paragraph 216 of the NPPF, he was obliged to give reasons explaining how he had done so and resolved important planning issues raised by the parties. He did not give any such reasoning in the decision letter.

This is critically important.  Of course in so far as material the decision maker can give any weight to a material consideration they wish, but now they cant simply dismiss objecions to an emerging plan, they must assess them in determining the weight to give to the emerging plan.