Government’s Neighbourhood Plans claim rejected by the courts
Back in December 2016, the then housing and planning Minister Gavin Barwell released a Written Ministerial statement which, amongst other things, declared made neighbourhood plans “that plan for a housing number have on average planned for approximately 10% more homes than the number for that area set out by the relevant local planning authority.”
On the back of this statement a consortium of developers, including housebuilders and land promoters started judicial review proceedings, calling the 10% claim misleading and lacking in any real evidence base. This judicial review was heard in early November.
The High Court ruling over the government’s claim was sought in order to have the evidence behind the statement released. In Mr. Justice Gilbart’s ruling, the claim by the Secretary of State was based on a selection of plans and not all plans which had been made. Mr Justice Gilbart also ruled that on making this statement the Secretary of State should also have released the evidence.
This ruling poses a particular problem for the current Secretary of State, who once again raised the statement at the Conservative Party Conference stating that it shows the success of giving local communities a say through neighbourhood planning. If the Government admit that they did indeed selectively choose Neighbourhood Plans then their claimed success is being called directly into question.