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Localism Act and Local Plans lose out to NPPF

The High Court has confirmed the NPPF will take priority over the Localism Act and local development plans

A landmark case in the High Court which saw Tewkesbury Borough Council battle against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and two developers has set a precedent for the status of the NPPF in planning decisions.

The High Court ruled against the local authority’s decision to refuse planning permission for 1,000 new homes in Gloucestershire.

The developers had appealled against the refusal for 1,000 new homes on agricultural land in Gloucestershire - an appeal upheld by Eric Pickles.

The High Court held that the existing local plan was out of date, meaning it carried little weight in the process. The courts also found that despite an emerging joint core strategy between Tewkesbury Borough Council, Gloucester City Council and Cheltenham Borough Council, that strategy was incapable of meeting the demand for housing over the next five years.

The ruling has given the go-ahead for two developments - one at Homelands Farm, and a second at Cleevelands, close to Bishops Cleeve in Gloucestershire.

Tewkesbury Borough Council argued that the decision undermined the local council’s ability to determine local housing need through establishing local development plans.

The decision shows Pickles is serious about the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Karen Cooksley, head of planning at solicitors Winckworth Sherwood said: ‘This is an important decision for developers and local authorities. It shows that the Secretary of State is serious about the five year housing land supply and the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

‘Local authorities have had years to prepare and adopt a local plan. Those that failed to do so knew that the guidance outlined in the NPPF would apply. The Localism Act has not brought about a fundamental change in the proper approach to planning applications.

‘Developers can take some comfort that schemes brought forward will have the full weight of the law behind them if they meet the requirements of the NPPF and where local authorities have failed to put in place a local plan.’

Developers Comparo will build 450 new homes, a community hall, leisure centre and nursery at Homelands Farm and another 550 homes will be built by Welbeck Properties to the north west of Bishop’s Cleeve in a development known as Cleevelands.

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