Planning for Housing: Research reveals drop in homes granted at appeal

The number of appeals dismissed where a local authority has been able to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply has increased from 14 to 25 per cent over the past 18 months, research unveiled today suggests.

Ben Frodsham speaking at the conference earlier today
Ben Frodsham speaking at the conference earlier today

A presentation by Indigo Planning director Simon Neate and associate director Ben Frodsham at the Planning for Housing Conference earlier today revealed the firm’s analysis of 594 major housing appeal decisions between January 2016 and August 2017.

The research showed that cases where an inspector found that a council could demonstrate a five-year housing land supply and the appeal was dismissed had risen from 14 to 25 per cent since January 2016.

Speaking during the session, Frodsham said that this could be because more councils are now able to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, or there are other factors at play, such as court judgments.

One key judgement singled out by Frodsham was the Barwood Strategic Land case, which he said has had the "biggest effect on appeal decisions, particularly where there is a five-year housing land supply in place".

Frodsham said that the decision set a new "benchmark" for development proposals that are inconsistent with an adopted local plan.

"The bar for which development proposals need to meet in terms of sustainability when they go against the local plan is set very high and this was established in this decision", he said.

The research also revealed that the overall number of homes allowed on appeal has decreased in the last 18 months, falling from 34,000 in 2015/16 to 28,000 in 2016/17.

Neate said that projections suggested there "could well be a drop again" in 2017/18. However, he said that the fall had been "more than compensated for" by a rise in the number of homes approved by local authorities.

Neate said that this demonstrated what is meant to happen in a plan-led system, with more decisions taken by councils and less going to appeal.

Elsewhere, talking about the government’s proposed standardised housing need assessment, Neate said that an analysis of government data carried out by Indigo had concluded that, if the proposed standardised approach is adopted, 51 per cent of local planning authority’s housing targets would increase, with the average increase being of the order of 240 homes per annum.

He said that London borough’s objectively assessed need would increase by on average over 1,000 dwellings per annum, but said that the conurbations elsewhere, such as Birmingham or Manchester would be likely to see "significant decreases".

The research also revealed:

  • 70 per cent of appeal decisions decisions between January 2016 and August 2017 featured five-year housing land supply as a key issue
  • In 74 per cent of those cases, inspectors concluded that there was not a five-year housing land supply
  • 70 per cent of large housing appeals have been allowed where there is no five-year housing land supply
  • 86 per cent of appeals were dismissed where there is a five-year housing land supply in place
  • Key specific issues in refusals have included countryside impact and sustainability

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