Leeds Planning Core Strategy now “out of date”

The Grove Road, Boston Spa Recovered Appeal is worth a glance (first few pages of Secretary of State’s response), especially as it confirms (by Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG)) that Leeds does not have a 5-year land supply, and confirms that a 20% buffer penalty should apply to Leeds housing land supply because of this failure and the widening gap between target and actual delivery of housing.. The Secretary of State also “agrees with the (Appeal) Inspector that the Council’s land supply figures would seem to be overly optimistic”. This starts from the over ambitious total housing target of 66,000 dwellings.


NPPF 49 states that “policies for the supply of housing should not be considered to be up to date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a 5 -year land supply of deliverable sites”.

Richborough Estates had a planning application on a “green gap” site in Cheshire. The application was refused by Cheshire on the basis that there was a “green gap” policy in place as part of the Cheshire CS. Richborough appealed the decision challenging the green gap policy as out of date (NPPF 49) as Cheshire could not demonstrate a deliverable 5-year land supply.

The appeal Inspector agreed the appeal, finding that the green gap policy could not be considered to be up to date and the weight of it should be reduced.

Cheshire appealed to the High Court and Lord Justice Sullivan ruled that the Inspector was wrong to regard the green gap policy as out of date. Sullivan said that this issue ”is of critical importance to the application of national policy throughout the country”.

Richborough appealed the case to the Court of Appeal, with Cheshire claiming that NPPF 49 refers only to policies relating to the amount and distribution of housing. The Court of Appeal found that the words in NPPF 49 –  “relevant policies for the supply of housing”  – should apply to ALL policies which have the effect of restricting residential development and this specifically includes: –

Policies for the greenbelt
The general protection of the countryside
The conservation of the landscape of ANOBs and National Parks.

The Court of Appeal also stated that the appeal decision is not an open door for greenbelt development, as applicants still need to demonstrate very special circumstances (the exceptional circumstance paragraph 83 of NPPF).

Cheshire have appealed further to the Supreme Court and the case will be heard in early 2017.

Martin Hughes

Chairman, Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance