Bernard Greep, director at Peter Brett Associates LLP, explains how to increase your chances of success at appeals for residential schemes.
There are several ways of increasing your chances of success when a residential scheme goes to appeal.
Establish whether the housing supply shortfall is ‘serious’ and ‘significant’. Or is it just a shortfall? Inspectors, and the secretary of state, have made it abundantly clear the size of the shortfall can be the most significant material consideration. Our practice, for example, secured permission for housing in Preston at appeal. Our evidence of the ‘substantial shortfall’ in housing land supply proved the decisive factor.
Focus on deliverability. Most planners can tell you whether a site is 'suitable' for housing and whether it is ‘available.’ But not everyone can demonstrate a site is ‘deliverable’. Given the clear instructions in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), it is prudent to focus on deliverability. If you are a council and claim to have a 5.3-year housing land supply, you need to be confident that the key sites you are relying upon are genuinely deliverable, and that they are likely to come forward at the rates and densities you claim. And don’t forget to factor in lead-in periods. If you are promoting a scheme, your money would be well-spent doing the same.
Go with Sedgefield. Accumulated under-supply in housing delivery should be addressed within the first five years of the plan period. This approach to dealing with accrued shortfalls – commonly referred to as the ‘Sedgefield’ method – has been accepted in the vast majority of relevant appeal decisions following the publication of the NPPF, and it is reaffirmed in the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG).
Make sure you can back up your arguments. A proposed housing scheme in Offenham, Worcestershire, had a requirement figure in the draft emerging plan of about 315 dwellings per annum. The draft regional strategy (RS) was 475. Our figure on full objectively assessed need was 817. The inspector rejected the figures in the emerging plan and the RS; rejected the DCLG household projections; and emphasised the requirement for LPAs to meet full housing need. The inspector concluded our housing need evidence was ‘compelling.’ The client’s appeal was allowed.
Don’t rely on ‘interim’ policies. We were involved in the Silverstone appeal and the secretary of state concluded an ‘interim rural housing planning policy’ does not form part of the development plan and therefore carries only limited weight. Given the absence of a five-year housing land supply in an up-to-date, adopted development plan, planning permission was granted for the housing scheme. As the PPG reinforces the importance of five-year supply, the issue looks set to continue to be a deal breaker. Canny appellants will use this to their advantage.