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Masthead Housing - Planning

Council concern at impact of High Court ruling quashing housing mix policy

A High Court ruling that quashed Charnwood Borough Council’s new housing mix policy may have reduced the scope for authorities to produce supplementary planning documents, the council has claimed.

Mr Justice Gilbart allowed an appeal against the policy brought by housebuilders William Davis, Bloor Homes, Jelson Homes, Davidsons Homes and Barwood Homes.

He said in William Davis Ltd & Ors v Charnwood Borough Council [2017] EWHC 3006 that the policy should have been adopted as part of a development plan document, in which case it would have needed independent examination by the secretary of state, rather than as a supplementary planning document, which required only consultation.

The policy prescribed the mix of home sizes in a housing development, with any departure requiring justification through evidence.

Gilbart J found the policy constituted a statement regarding the development and use of land and was also a “development management policy … intended to guide the determination of applications for planning permission” and so according to the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 needed to be adopted in a development plan document and not a supplementary planning document.

He also found Charnwood’s housing mix unlawful as it had not made a viability assessment before the policy was adopted.

A council spokesman said: “In this case, the judge hearing the case noted that the [Town & Country Planning] regulations were poorly drafted and found in favour of the developers, quashing the housing mix part of the SPD.

“While the judge’s ruling is disappointing, there are policies in place, such as the local plan core strategy policy for housing mix, which still gives us some level of influence on the mix of housing in developments.

“The ruling may also be of interest to observers as the interpretation of the regulations appears to reduce the scope for producing supplementary planning documents.

“We will continue to work with developers on ensuring future housing developments meet the needs of the community.”

Gwion Lewis and Matthew Fraser of Landmark Chambers acted for the claimant developers. Paul Stinchcombe QC of 39 Essex Chambers appeared for the council.

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