Court of Appeal grants permission to appeal to consider meaning of “new isolated homes in the countryside”

01 Jan 2018

Planning and Environment

The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal against the decision of Lang J in Braintree DC v SSCLG [2017] EWHC 2743 (Admin.).

The case concerns the meaning of paragraph 55 NPPF, which provides that local planning authorities should “avoid new isolated homes in the countryside” unless there are “special circumstances”, examples of which are then given.

The Council had argued in the High Court that new homes should be considered “isolated” if they were isolated from services, facilities and employment, rather than only if they were isolated from other homes. Lang J rejected that construction in favour of a narrow interpretation, finding that a new home is isolated in this context only if it is “far away from other places, buildings, or people; remote” (utilising the OED definition).

In granting the Council permission to appeal, Lewison L.J. accepted that the appeal raised a point of principle of wider importance but also “stood a real prospect of success”. The appeal will give the Court of Appeal the opportunity to consider this little-considered part of the NPPF but which has wide-ranging implications for development in the countryside.

In short, the Court of Appeal has a choice between a narrow physical approach to the word “isolated”, which would make it easier to build in the countryside, and a wider and functional approach which would make it harder to secure permission on sites remote from services, facilities or employment.

The appeal hearing is likely to be towards the end of 2018.

Ashley Bowes appears for the Council (instructed by Trevor Griffiths at Sharpe Pritchard LLP).