CPRE calls for planning policy reforms to halt greenfield housing development by appeal

Out-Law News | 09 Sep 2014 | 4:26 pm | 1 min. read

Countryside campaign group the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has called for reforms to UK planning policy to protect greenfield sites from development by local authorities under pressure to supply land for housing.

In a report entitled Targeting the countryside (4-page / 3.5 MB PDF), the CPRE said that developers were using "a loophole in national planning guidance" to gain permission for large housing developments on rural sites against the wishes of local authorities and residents.

The report said that a presumption under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in favour of granting planning permission where local authorities cannot demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing development, was allowing developers to "bypass local democracy" and use the appeals process to overturn local authority decisions that sought to protect greenfield sites.

Research commissioned by the CPRE and carried out by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff revealed that permission had been granted through the appeals process for 27,364 homes on greenfield sites over a two year period, with less than half as many homes refused permission on appeal. Where councils could not demonstrate a five year supply of housing land, 72% of appeals were allowed, the research found.

The CPRE said that local authorities found it difficult to demonstrate a five year supply, due to a lack of understanding of how to determine housing need. It called on the UK government to provide detailed guidance on the preparation of housing supply figures and to provide standard methodologies for the production of strategic housing market assessments.

The campaign group criticised the NPPF's "inflexible focus on short-term housing targets", recommending that the Framework be amended to "allow for a flexible approach to five year housing supply" where local authorities could demonstrate long term plans to meet housing demand with large sustainable developments.

The CPRE also called on the UK government to change the NPPF to: remove the presumption in favour of granting planning permission where a five year supply cannot be demonstrated; to give environmental and social sustainability the same weight as housing need in the planning balance; and to suspend the requirement to increase supply by an additional 20% where local authorities have a track record of under delivery of homes.