Killian Garvey, acting for Lourett Developments Ltd, assisted with securing planning outline planning permission in Thrapston, which is within the jurisdiction of East Northamptonshire District Council.
The issues raised in the appeal were:
- loss of public open space;
- impact upon character and appearance of the area;
- whether there was an appropriate mix of dwellings;
- the principle of development;
- whether the Council could demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply.
The inspector found for the appellant on all points.
Of note is that the inspector endorsed a number of other appeal decisions that the definition of what constitutes a ‘deliverable’ site, for assessing 5-year housing land supply, is a ‘closed list’. In fact, the inspector went further and awarded costs against the Council on this basis.
The appellant pursued a costs application against the Council for relying on the incorrect definition of ‘deliverable’ sites within the NPPF. The inspector agreed with the appellant’s case and made an award of costs against the Council on this basis, saying as follows:
9. Nevertheless, the Council’s assessment of its five-year housing land supply followed a deeply flawed methodology. In its list of deliverable sites, the Council included sites in its emerging Local Plan as well as unallocated sites not on a brownfield register and without planning permission. The Council also failed to provide any evidence regarding the deliverability of small allocated sites, regarding this to be disproportionate. This is at odds with the closed list definition in the Framework of what is a deliverable site. The Council accepted this at the hearing, which makes its position even more inexplicable. If the Council had properly applied the definition of ‘deliverable’ in the Framework, then it would have been very apparent that it is currently unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.
10. I accept that a debate could be had over whether there is clear evidence over the deliverability of some of the ‘Category B’4 sites in the Council’s supply. However, the inclusion of sites in the supply that clearly and knowingly fall outside the definition was unreasonable. The Council’s ability to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply was entirely reliant on such sites. Accordingly, the Council should not have contested whether it could demonstrate a five-year housing land supply. In so doing, it acted unreasonably and put the applicant to the unnecessary expense of preparing evidence on this matter and presenting it at the hearing through an expert. A lot of time was spent on this matter at the hearing, which further compounded the unreasonable behaviour.
The inspector also dismissed an application for costs made by the Council against the Appellant.
View the Appeal Decision here.
View the Appellants Costs Decision here.