Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Swale Borough Council v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Maughan [2018] EWHC 3402 (Admin)

The case involved an application for planning permission by Travellers where a temporary permission was granted by a Planning Inspector.  The Council took one ground of challenge against this decision on the basis that the Inspector had erred in law in that, when referring to “a substantial shortfall”, he failed to determine the amount of the shortfall in the 5 year supply of Traveller sites.

Reference was made to a housing development case Hallam v SSCLG and Eastleigh BC [2018] EWCA Civ 1808, a case which involved the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  Lindblom LJ, in that case, stated as follows:-

50. First, the relationship between housing need and housing supply in planning decision-making is ultimately a matter of planning judgment, exercised in the light of the material presented to the decision-maker, and in accordance with the policies in… the NPPF…

51. …But the weight given to the benefits of new housing development in an area where a shortfall in housing land supply has arisen is likely to depend on factors such as the broad magnitude of the shortfall, how long it is likely to persist, what the local planning authority is doing to reduce it, and how much of it the development will meet.

52. Thirdly the NPPF does not stipulate the degree of precision required in calculating the supply of housing land when an application or appeal is being determined.  This too is left to the decision-maker…It is for this reason that he will normally have to identify at least the broad magnitude of any shortfall in the supply of housing land.

Applying the decision in Hallam to this case, Ockelton J stated:-

25. Even if the strictures of Hallam, such as they are, were applicable in a PPTS case, there is, in my judgment, nothing in the inspector’s decision that is thereby rendered unlawful.  The shortfall he identified, 19 out of the 56 required, was one which the inspector was clearly entitled to characterise as ‘substantial’…

27. For these reasons I conclude that the inspector’s decision is not unlawful in the manner asserted by the Council.  I therefore dismiss this claim.