Lewes District Council overturns Housing Delivery Test following judicial review

31 Oct 2019

Planning and Environment

In February 2019 the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government published the Housing Delivery Test (HDT) results for Lewes District Council. Originally the HDT result stood at 50%, meaning that the Council was required to add a 20% buffer to the housing requirement when calculating their five year supply.

Having attempted, and failed, to resolve their concerns about the HDT figure by correspondence, the Council issued judicial review proceedings. The Council argued that the Secretary of State had erred in law by failing to properly disaggregate the housing requirement for Lewes from the housing requirement for the South Downs National Park Authority. The difficulty came about because of the earlier decision of the High Court in the Wealden case to quash the joint core strategy in so far as it applied to the National Park Authority, but not in respect of Lewes.

Following grant of permission by the Court, on 29 August 2019 the Secretary of State published a new HDT result for Lewes at 83%, and sought to argue that this new decision rendered the judicial review academic.

The Council amended their grounds of challenge to challenge the new decision, arguing that the 83% figure was flawed on the basis that, having now accepted the principle of needing to disaggregate the housing requirement figure for Lewes, the Secretary of State had failed to disaggregate in a rational way.

The Secretary of State ultimately accepted that his approach was flawed and on 22 October 2019 published a new HDT result for Lewes at 86% – meaning that the 20% buffer does not apply to the District.

Please click here for a copy of the consent order and here for the copy of the Secretary of State’s latest letter.

Lewes District Council were represented by Clare Parry (in respect of the original grounds of challenge) and Rob Williams (in respect of the amended grounds of challenge).

Clare and Rob are members of the Cornerstone Public law and Planning teams, who regularly act for and against public bodies in judicial review and statutory challenges.