Since the Government published the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) last year there have been a trickle of appeal decisions which have grappled with the intricacies of interpreting the NPPF and PPG in respect of the implications of the standard methodology for calculating a local authority’s housing requirement.
The Government’s intention was that the standard methodology should be applied in respect of assessing 5 year housing land supply immediately and local housing needs assessments based on the standard method should be applied in respect of strategic policy making as of the 24th of January this year.
There are a few notable post revised NPPF appeal decisions regarding 5 year housing land supply including; Bamber Bridge in Preston
(August 2018) and Deerlands Road, Wingerworth in North East Derbyshire
(November 2018). However, the messages were ultimately confusing; the Inspector at Bamber Bridge suggested the standard method was subject still to a level of uncertainty, stating at paragraph 44 ‘Government guidance indicates the new methodology for assessing housing needs is incomplete and so it would be premature to make and rely upon such an assessment’
and the Inspector at Deerlands firmly stood behind the standard method in assessing 5 year housing land supply and noted the ‘clarity and consistency’
that the standard method provides. An all too common position of uncertainty has emerged in respect of the standard method which was ultimately introduced to simplify and expedite the process.
However, on the 5th
of February Hallam Land Management learned that their appeal regarding the Land East of Mere Lane, Edenthorpe, Doncaster had been allowed by the Secretary of State (SoS), who accepted his Inspector’s recommendation
. When determining the call-in application, the Secretary of State (SoS) has concluded that the standard method is the approach which must be applied in respect of assessing 5-year housing land supply.
Ironically, the appeal (which started in September 2017 and concluded in January 2018) closed its September 2017 sitting on the day the Government published its consultation on the standard method, within ‘Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places’. There was a lot of evidence and examination of housing need in Doncaster at the Inquiry when it resumed in January 2018. Despite the Inspector’s report (1st November 2018) containing a detailed discussion of the debate, the SoS concluded in respect of the 5-year housing land supply position at paragraph 14 of his decision:
“While he notes that the applicant has used an alternative approach to calculate the figure, the Secretary of State considers that the standard methodology should be used, in line with the Framework. Using this, the Secretary of State considers that Doncaster Council’s annual requirement is circa 600 homes per year, and that based on forecast levels of supply, they can currently demonstrate over 10 years supply of housing land”
This decision clearly follows the transitional arrangements identified in the NPPF in respect of assessing 5-year housing land supply against the standard methodology and is clear how the Framework should be applied, in the current circumstances.
Despite the 5-year housing land supply argument being superseded by the Government’s new approach in respect of assessing local housing need during the Inquiry, the appeal for Hallam Land Management in Doncaster was allowed. This is because the Inspector and the SoS determining that key policies of the Unitary Development Plan are out of date and that the tilted balance in respect of sustainable development stated in paragraph 11 of the Framework applies; an extremely long-winded wait for a great result.
 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/housing-and-economic-development-needs-assessment APP/F2360/W/18/3198822 APP/R1038/W/17/3192255 APP/F4410/W/17/3169288