Important clarity on “clear evidence” to demonstrate housing land supply

28 Mar 2019

Planning and Environment

Last summer, the NPPF was substantially amended to require stricter evidence to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.

The NPPF now provides that sites for ‘major development’ (10 or more units) should not be presumed ‘deliverable’ unless there is ‘clear evidence that housing completions will begin on site within five years’.

In a Decision issued yesterday, Inspector Mellor reviewed the much-cited Woolmer and Woolpit decisions to find that:

(a) Permissions issued after the base date should not be counted (including sites subject to a resolution to grant at the base date) (para.62)

(b) Information received after the base-date concerning progress of sites with outline permission should be included in the Annual Monitoring Report. An example may be a site without outline permission at the base date, but subsequently an application for full permission is received for a similar development (para.63).

(c) An authority must not only demonstrate that some housing completions will begin on site within five-years but also the amount of housing which will be delivered within that five-year period (para.65).

(d) The clear evidence relied upon must be either included in the AMR or at least published alongside it. It does not mean that ‘every email or every note of a meeting or telephone conversation’ rather the information can be provided in summary form or some means of identifying the basis for the conclusions reached (para.66-67).

Ashley Bowes (who acted for the successful party in the appeal) said:

This Decision provides valuable guidance as to the steps required to demonstrate a five-year land supply. It is essential reading for those seeking to challenge an LPA’s assertion of a five-year supply, especially where substantial reliance is placed on outline permissions.