Court rejects government claim that neighbourhood plans provide 10% more homes

The High Court has ruled that ministers should have released documents to back up a claim that adopted neighbourhood plans were delivering 10 per cent more housing than those planned for by the relevant local planning authority.

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

A written ministerial statement issued by former housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell in December last year said that neighbourhood plans in force "plan for a housing number have on average planned for approximately 10 per cent more homes than the number for that area set out by the relevant local planning authority".

However, Richborough Estates Ltd claimed that the statement was illogical and unreasonable. It was based on a selection of neighbourhood plans and was factually mistaken, it claimed.

In agreeing with the claimant, Mr Justice Gilbart accepted the claim that it was not true that the average neighbourhood plan made provision for 10 per cent more housing. It was based on a selection of plans and not all plans which had been made.

The judge ruled that the secretary of state should have disclosed the evidence which supported the 10 per cent claim. 

The 10 per cent figure was recently cited by communities secretary Sajid Javid at the Conservative Party conference. 

The ruling is related to a judicial review challenge launched in January by a consortium of developers which seeks to overturn the government's move to strengthen neighbourhood plans in areas where the local authority does not have a five-year housing land supply.

The judicial review case is due to go to the High Court next week. The judge’s ruling over the 10 per cent claim was sought to secure the disclosure of the information (excluding legal advice) that informed the secretary of state’s decision to issue the written ministerial statement.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has been approached for comment. 


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