Planning Applications – how they’re determined currently

Residents who oppose what they see as inappropriate development are feeling frustrated at failed attempts to see planning applications refused. It used to be the principle that, ‘This isn’t good enough to approve. ” Now the rule of thumb has changed to, ‘This isn’t bad enough to refuse.’ That’ change in perspective has come along since the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was adopted, which states a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Right now the Vale of White Horse has no adopted Local Plan, and therefore Vale cannot demonstrate a 5 year land supply for house building. Once the Local Plan is adopted, we will have both of those things. Until we have both those things, refusing a planning application is difficult, but not impossible. Until we have both those things, our local policies hold less weight, and the NPPF is the main policy.

In his Decision Report for 54-56 Hurst Rise Road of November 2015, the Inspector considered the applicant’s appeals against refusal. He said:

Background and Main Issues

3. The Council accept that they cannot demonstrate sites sufficient for five years worth of housing against their housing requirements as they are advised to do in the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework). Paragraph 49 of the Framework advises that housing applications, as this is, should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development and that relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up to date if the Council cannot demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites. The presumption in favour of sustainable development is set out at paragraph 14 of the Framework and includes advice that where relevant policies are out of date planning permission should be granted unless the adverse impact of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the scheme. Given the need to boost significantly the supply of housing and that the site is located within the built up area of Botley, an area where new housing will be permitted subject to its impact on character and facilities important to the local community (policy H10 of the Vale of White Horse Local Plan 2011, July 2006 (LP)), there is strong support for the principle of developing the site for housing.

4. However, the presumption in favour of sustainable development seeks to achieve economic, social and environmental gains and positive improvements to the built and natural environment. I must therefore consider the detailed aspects of the proposals against these aims to determine whether the benefits of the development proposals would be significantly and demonstrably outweighed by any adverse impacts that may arise from granting permission such that the proposals would not amount to sustainable development. (my emphsis)

So, wherever it can be convincingly demonstrated that the harm from the proposed development significantly and demonstrably outweighs the benefits, the application can be refused. 

There’s the strategy. That’s the trick.