Neighbourhood plan could allocate housing even if there was no strategic development plan

The Localism Act 2011 amended planning legislation to introduce parish councils or neighbourhood forums initiating neighbourhood development plans. Neighbourhood development plans must be independently examined, and if recommended, with or without modification, are submitted to a referendum. If more than half of the votes favour the plan, the local planning authority must put the neighbourhood development plan in place.

Is it permissible for a neighbourhood plan to include policies relating to a settlement boundary or the allocation of sites for housing if the local planning authority has yet to adopt a development plan document containing strategic policies for meeting the objectively assessed housing needs of the district?

Condition 8(2)(d) of Schedule 4B to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”) requires that the making of the neighbourhood development plan “will contribute to the achievement of sustainable development”.

In the Planning Court case of Gladman Developments Ltd, R (on the application of) v Aylesbury Vale District Council & Anor [2014] Aylesbury Vale District Council (“the Council”) had made the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan (“the Neighbourhood Plan”). Policy 2 of the Neighbourhood Plan established a settlement boundary and provided that development outside the settlement boundary would only be allowed in exceptional circumstances. Within the settlement boundary, Policy 3 allocated land for sites for an indicative number of 455 new dwellings.

The claimant wished to develop three sites in the Winslow neighbourhood area outside the settlement boundary and sought judicial review of the Neighbourhood Plan.

The Council as yet had no adopted development plan document in place dealing with strategic housing issues because its draft Vale of Aylesbury Plan (“the Vale Plan”) had been rejected by the planning examiner and resolved to be withdrawn because the Council needed to better co-operate with other relevant authorities to fix the level of housing provision needing to be identified in the document. For Winslow it had only identified 400 houses.

The Planning Court ruled that a neighbourhood development plan may include policies for housing land, and direct where any proposed number of new dwellings are to be located, even where there was at present no development plan document setting out strategic polices for housing.

The examiner was therefore entitled in the present case to conclude that the Neighbourhood Plan satisfied basic condition 8(2)(e) of Schedule 4B to the 1990 Act as it conformed to such strategic policies as were contained in development plan documents even though the local planning authority had yet to adopt a development plan document containing strategic polices for housing.

The condition 8(2)(d) of Schedule 4B to the 1990 Act was satisfied. The examiner was entitled to conclude that a neighbourhood plan that provided for an additional 455 dwellings, in appropriate locations contributed to sustainable development even if:

– others wanted more growth and

– development plan documents in future might provide for additional growth.

Even if there might, in future, be a need for further growth, the examiner was entitled to think that it was appropriate to make the Neighbourhood Plan in the light of national guidance and advice, including the National Planning Policy Framework.

This blog has been posted out of general interest. It does not replace the need to get bespoke legal advice in individual cases.