Council goes to High Court over five-year housing supply decision

A council's legal challenge against the government's approval for more than 250 homes on the basis that the local authority could not demonstrate a five year housing land supply has been heard at the High Court.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

South Northamptonshire Council faces a waiting game following High Court challenges to two government-approved planning permissions for housing developments at Kings Sutton and Silverstone.
One of the country’s top judges has reserved judgment in the case, to give it in writing at a later date.
In two cases heard one after another by Mr Justice Ouseley, one of the country's most experienced planning judges, the council hopes to win orders quashing the permissions granted to developer Barwood Homes.
On 4 July last year, a planning inspector approved residential development of 35 homes on land north of Hampton Drive, Kings Sutton, Northamptonshire.
Then, 20 days later, the secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles, on the recommendation of another inspector, granted outline consent for a larger scheme for 220 houses at Catch Yard Farm, Towcester Road, Silverstone.
The council claims that both decisions should be quashed as a result of errors of law in each inspector's approach.

It argues that the inspectors were wrong to find that it had failed to demonstrate that it could provide sufficient development sites to meet its area's five-year target for additional housing.
The council had argued before the inspector that, based on a "trajectory approach", it could offer as much as a seven year housing supply.
However, the inspectors rejected this approach and concluded that the five year target could not be met.

The inspector dealing with the Catch Yard Farm appeal said in his decision: "The council has repeatedly failed to provide for the specific and identified housing needs of the district. In its submitted joint core strategy it has adopted a housing trajectory which denies the past failures, and now seeks to aggravate this by seeking to significantly under-provide during the early years of the plan period.
"If found to be acceptable, this would become a self-fulfilling prophecy which would drive the supply of housing land even lower. The council's preferred trajectory is manifestly inconsistent with the requirement to ensure a five year housing supply."
The council hopes the judge will quash each decision and order the secretary of state to have Barwood's two applications reconsidered.
The cases follow after a third challenge was dismissed by Mr Justice Lewis at the High Court in December.

In that case, the council had sought to quash an outline planning permission granted to Robert Plummer for 17 homes on a site south of Peace Hill and adjacent to The Leys, Bugbrooke, Northampton.

Lawyers for the government argued that the two cases raised the same issues as the one that was dismissed by the High Court last year, and so Mr Justice Ouseley should reach the same decision.

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