Editor's pick: Neighbourhood plan held capable of site allocation

A housebuilder seeking to develop four hectares of land in Rutland has failed to persuade the High Court to strike down a neighbourhood plan on the basis that it allocated sites for development contrary to the Localism Act 2011.

The land in which the claimants had an interest was not proposed for allocation within the plan. They asserted that under section 17(7)(za) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and in accordance with regulation 5 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012, a site allocation policy document could only be prepared as a local development plan document by the local planning authority.

They went on to claim that paragraph 16 of the National Planning Policy Framework also precluded neighbourhood plans from allocating land. In response, the council stated that the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 impose no restrictions on what can be contained within a neighbourhood plan.

Mr Justice Collins noted that government planning practice guidance states that neighbourhood plans can allocate sites for development and the government clearly placed significant weight on local communities' ability to exercise power over where new housing, shops and offices should be built. While conceding that parts of the 2012 regulations were poorly drafted, he held that it would be surprising if neighbourhood plans could not be used to allocate land despite not being prepared by local planning authorities.

Larkfleet Homes Ltd v Rutland County Council and Uppingham Town Council

Date: 8 December 2014; Ref: CO/3063/2014

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