Richborough Estates win their case in the  Supreme Court – but Cheshire East correct on the NPPF interpretation point

The Supreme Court has this morning (10 May 2017) handed down judgment in the Cheshire East / Suffolk Coastal cases which were heard in February.  Richborough Estates were successful in defending their planning permission for 150 houses on ‘Green Gap’ land granted on appeal in Cheshire East in 2014.  However, the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of what are “relevant policies for the supply of housing” in paragraph 49 of the NPPF was wrong and that those words legally bore the narrow meaning as the two Councils had contended. The Hopkins Homes appeal against the Suffolk Coastal refusal will have to be re-determined.

However, in the Richborough appeal the inspector’s error in the paragraph 49 issue had not materially affected the inspector’s consideration of the NPPF paragraph 14 ‘tilted balance’ so there was no reason to question the validity of the permission. The Court said the inspector was clearly entitled to reduce the weight to be given to restrictive policies derived from settlement boundaries that in turn reflect out of date housing requirements.

The dismissal of the Hopkins Homes appeal was quashed for a reason unrelated to the paragraph 49 issue but which had distorted his approach to the paragraph 14 balance.

The Supreme Court has clarified the law on:

  • the legal basis for national planning policy.
  • the relationship between national planning policy and the development plan.
  • the role of the Planning Court in interpreting the meaning of policy as distinct from its application.
  • the operation of the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development (NPPF/ paragraph 14).
  • the breadth of the policies covered by the phrase ‘relevant policies for the supply of housing’ (NPPF/49).

Click below for articles from Chris Young and Hugh Richards

Martin Kingston QC and Hugh Richards of No5 Barristers’ Chambers appeared for the local authorities

Chris Young and James Corbet Burcher of No5 Barristers’ Chambers appeared for Richborough Estates LLP

Please click here for the link to the full judgement.