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Interpretation of Government Housing Policy to Be Appealed in the Supreme Court

on Friday, 05 August 2016.

A controversial Court of Appeal decision setting out the meaning of 'relevant policies for the supply of housing' in the government's National Planning Policy Framework ('NPPF') is set to be appealed before the Supreme Court.

Suffolk Coastal District Council and Cheshire East Council are to challenge the Court of Appeal's decision in Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes Ltd & another [2016] EWCA Civ 168. This will be an important appeal not only because of the clarification needed on housing policy (in the context of a continuing housing shortage) but also because the NPPF has not been considered by the Supreme Court since it was introduced in 2012.

The Court of Appeal previously considered paragraph 49 of the NPPF which states that 'relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites'. This has been widely interpreted to mean that the presumption in favour of granting permission for sustainable development takes over, even if relevant housing policies indicate that permission should not be granted.

Clearly the question which follows is 'what is a relevant policy for the supply of housing?'  The Court of Appeal opted for a wide interpretation, covering policies which promote supply of housing and those which aim to restrict it, such as policies to protect green belt which although not specific to housing do have an impact. This wide interpretation has been welcomed by developers who have seen it as an opportunity for material policy considerations, which might otherwise be a barrier to development, to fall away for being out-of-date. The Supreme Court's view on this is keenly awaited.

If you have any questions about this or any other planning issue, please contact Thomas Ewings in our Commercial Property Law Team on 0117 314 5387.

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