The inspector relied on two other appeal decisions in the council’s area in which colleagues had concluded that the land supply position was marginal and applied the presumption in favour of sustainable development applied, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). He saw no reason to depart from these conclusions and applied the same "tilted balance" in allowing the appeal (DCS Number 400-017-882).
The council asserted that the tilted balance had been misapplied because it was based on a "precautionary" approach to delivery of homes over the five-year period. It claimed that none of the inspectors had provided reasons for supposing that delivery would fall below five years, arguing that it was entitled to rely on sites with planning permission under footnote 11 of the 2012 NPPF.
Deputy judge Justine Thornton QC saw no error in inspectors applying a precautionary approach in deciding whether a five-year supply of housing could be delivered, since this was a matter of planning judgement. She remarked that it would have been nonsensical for the inspector to have ignored evidence of doubts over the delivery of permitted sites, particularly given government policy to significantly boost the supply of housing.
The judge was not persuaded that the inspector had required the council to show conclusively that permitted sites would be delivered. Instead, she held, it was for the council to demonstrate, through robust evidence, why sites should be regarded as deliverable. The inspector had correctly exercised his judgement in concluding that the tilted balance applied, she found.
Cheshire East Council v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
Date: 1 November 2018
Ref:  EWHC 2906 (Admin)