Challenges to a local planning authority’s adoption of a development plan document will rarely succeed. The task of testing the soundness of a development plan document is a matter for planning judgment, exercised within the relevant statutory scheme and against the background of relevant policy and guidance, rather than for the court.
In the Court of Appeal case of Oxted Residential Ltd v Tandridge District Council  :the issue was: was it lawful for a local planning authority to adopt a development plan document and a Community Infrastructure Levy (“CIL”) charging schedule to underpin a core strategy prepared under national planning policy for housing land supply that had been superseded by the National Planning Policy Framework (“the NPPF”) in March 2012?
The first issue
In Gladman Developments Ltd. v Wokingham Borough Council  Lewis J. had concluded that the inspector was “not required by reason of [the NPPF] to consider an objective assessment of housing need in order to assess whether this development plan document was sound”.
The Court of Appeal said whether a particular policy of the core strategy, or of the local plan was up to date within paragraph 49 of NPPF was a question that would arise in the making of a decision where an application had been made for planning permission for housing development – when it might be contended that the council is unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land so that it’s “[relevant] policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date”.
So the council had not been required to consider an objective assessment of housing need before adopting the local development plan document.
The second issue
Given that there was no up to date local plan the appellant said:
1. it was impracticable for a charging authority to make a rational assessment of the need for infrastructure in it’s area.
2. Any calculation of the contributions to be made by developers in the form of CIL would depend on the amount of development properly planned for.
3. If there was no up to date local plan, with the required five-year supply of housing land, and the authority continued to rely on an out of date plan, the CIL charging schedule would bear no reasonable relationship to the infrastructure required or the source of contributions to that infrastructure.
Disagreeing the court said there was no statutory obstacle to the adoption of a CIL charging schedule when a relevant development plan document is, or may be considered, out of date in the light of subsequently issued national policy or guidance.
There is no requirement in the legislative framework which required a recently adopted plan to be in place before a CIL Schedule can be adopted, and there is no legal reason why a charging authority can only produce a CIL schedule if it has recently produced a plan.
Far from it being necessarily unreasonable for a charging authority to adopt a CIL charging schedule in such circumstances, it would often be the most practical approach to take
It had not been unreasonable for the examiner to accept the council’s argument that, although a review of the core strategy was now anticipated, in the meantime, it would be logical and sensible to have a CIL charging schedule in place to deal with the development planned in the core strategy as adopted, and to revise the CIL charging schedule in the light of the review of the core strategy, or earlier, under the legislative power to do so in section 211(9) of the Planning Act 2008.
This blog has been posted out of general interest. It does not replace the need to get bespoke legal advice in individual cases.