The Yapton Case; Made Neighbourhood Plan Trumps Lack of Supply
A judge dismissed all seven grounds on which a developer sought to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision to reject a planning inspector’s recommendation for approval.
The appeal for 100 dwellings in Yapton, West Sussex, was allowed but consequently overturned by the Secretary of State. The judge, Ms Justice Lang, noted that the SoS had concluded that the appeal did not accord with Arun’s Local Plan, nor the made Yapton Neighbourhood Plan.
Despite Arun lacking the five- year supply of housing required by the NPPF and being liable to the presumption in favour of sustainable development, the SoS concluded that the development did not comply with the social element of sustainability and the “adverse impacts of this proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the identified benefits.”
Developer Keith Langmead appealed on the grounds that the SoS misunderstood and misinterpreted the NPPF and that it was thus not applied correctly, failed to take into account the independent Examination Inspector’s reservations about the Neighbourhood Plan and made a decision that was inconsistent with regard to the weight given to the Local Plan.
The case built on a previous judgment and attached great importance to the concept; in paragraph 185 of the NPPF, that “neighbourhood plans will be able to shape and direct sustainable development in their area.” In his view, this was more than a statement of aspiration and should be “upheld as an effective means to shape and direct development in the neighbourhood planning area in question.” This reasoning led to the conclusion that the proposal’s conflict with the neighbourhood plan has to be given “very substantial negative weight”, which was in turn, enough weight to significantly and demonstrably outbalance the benefit of addition housing proposed.