The Court of Appeal has today handed down judgment in the Case of R (Oxton Farm) v Harrogate Brough Council [2020] EWCA Civ 805.

The claim related to a grant of planning permission for development outside settlement limits in the village of Bickerton. The officer report noted that the proposal was contrary to various policies of the development plan but recommended that permission be granted nevertheless on the basis of the ‘tilted balance’ in NPPF para.11.

Oxton Farm challenged the permission on various grounds including that the officer had wrongly advised that the ‘titled balance’ was engaged on the basis that the housing land supply position was merely “marginal” and that, in any event, the Council had failed to take into account the effect of the 2016-based ONS projections, which were published a matter of days before the Committee meeting and, according to Oxton Farm, resulted in the Council’s deliverable supply rising from just over 5 years to over 7 years.

The claim failed at first instance before HHJ Klein and before the Court of Appeal which held that:

  • The officer had not advised the committee that the ‘titled balance’ was triggered on the basis that the supply was marginal but rather on the basis that the most important policies in the development plan for determining the application were out of date in any event;
  • The terms of NPPF 2018 allowed the Council to rely on its proposed housing requirement in the emerging Local Plan rather than the standard method when considering its housing land supply position;
  • The proper inference was that the Committee had granted permission for the reasons given in the report and it was under no duty to provide additional reasons addressing the points made orally at the meeting regarding the effect of the 2016-based projections.


John Hunter acted for Harrogate Borough Council.

A link to the judgment may be found here.

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