Before Paragraph 14, The Need to Consider Paragraphs 7 & 8

Before Paragraph 14, The Need to Consider Paragraphs 7 & 8

One of the more controversial elements of the NPPF since its release in 2012 is the "presumption in favour of sustainable development" listed in Paragraph 14. In fact, some commentators proclaimed that this would "open the floodgates" to a plethora of unrestricted development, especially when considering that where the Development Plan is absent, silent or out of date, permission should be granted unless "any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole".

It has often been construed that this presumption 'automatically' applies to development, unless there are specific polices within a development plan or other material considerations that indicate otherwise. More and more however, inspectors are determining that in order for the presumption to apply, development must first be demonstrated to be sustainable, rather than it being 'assumed' when making decisions on planning applications. A key case here is appeal decision APP/C3430/A/13/2194005, where PJ Planning successfully represented South Staffordshire Council in fighting an appeal against the refusal to grant planning permission.

Definitions for sustainability have evolved dramatically since 1987 and Our Common Future, where sustainable development was cited as being: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.". Whilst this is still the most common definition of sustainable development used by academics and policy makers on an international scale, the NPPF includes its own definition of sustainable development in Paragraph 7 in order to describe how this should be interpreted on a national, and subsequently local scale. This states:

There are three dimensions to sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. These dimensions give rise to the need for the planning system to perform a number of roles:

  • an economic role – contributing to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation; and by identifying and coordinating development requirements, including the provision of infrastructure;
  • a social role – supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high quality built environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being; and
  • an environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy.

Paragraph 8 of the Framework then describes how these three roles must be assessed together rather than in isolation, as they are not "mutually dependant". The latter part of the paragraph here states how "to achieve sustainable development, economic, social and environmental gains should be sought jointly and simultaneously through the planning system".

In appeal decision APP/C3430/A/13/2194005, the inspector is implicit in stating that whilst there is indeed a "general" presumption in favour of sustainable development, this needs to be engaged by meeting the criteria in Paragraph 7 and 8. In this case, the inspector determined that there was questionable economic benefit, no real social value and harm to the environment. In light of this, Paragraph 54 of the appeal decision, considering Paragraphs 7 and 8 together states:

it does not represent a sustainable form of development to which the national policy presumption in favour should apply.

Effect on Decision Making

Whilst the Development Plan and Material Considerations should be taken into account as a whole, the importance of this decision is significant. The methodology is clear that in order for the presumption to apply, it must first be specifically determined if the development meets the criteria outlined in Paragraphs 7 and 8 to be classified as sustainable.

This therefore has an impact on how planning applications, in particular supporting evidence is prepared, and the means by which decision makers should determine them. In particular, it is seemingly no longer enough to simply state that because a development is in a sustainable location, or that the lack of any development plan policy makes a site automatically sustainable. This must be proven, and the need to do so will likely vary from application to application.

Insofar as decision making, local authorities will be under greater pressure to test the true sustainable merits of any planning application before applying the presumption. This must be done with trepidation however, as a mis-assessment and subsequent wrong usage of Paragraph 14 could leave the local authority open to appeal or legal challenge.

More Information

Should you require more information on how this may affect your development or local community, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer a wide variety of planning services, and are happy to discuss how this report may impact you.

SWDP Inspector's Interim Report Summary

SWDP Inspector's Interim Report Summary

Following the joint submission of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) by Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon District Councils to the Secretary of State on the 28th May 2013, the first phase of the plan’s examination in public commenced in October 2013. The Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State elected to conduct the examination in two phases, the first being:

“Confined to the consideration of the soundness of the proposed levels of employment, housing and retail provision set out in policy SWDP3, and whether or not the requirements of section 33A of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 in respect of the duty to co-operate were met in the preparation of the Plan.”

Housing Need Interim Conclusions

On the 30th October 2013, the Inspector issued his interim conclusions as planned on these matters. In the letter attached to his main interim report, the inspector states that his most important finding is that

“The modelling and analysis in the February 2012 SHMA do not provide a reliable basis for identifying the level of housing need in South Worcestershire over the Plan period”,

and therefore

“Ask[s] the Councils to undertake some further analysis in order to derive an objective assessment of housing need over the Plan period”

The conclusions to the discussion of housing need state that this additional work is likely to lead to a housing figure substantially higher than the 23,200 figure identified in the submission document, however the Inspector was not in a position to predict the outcome of any additional work conducted by the three local authorities.

Alongside this, the inspector determined that the allowance of 550 dwellings in the housing supply figures for bringing long-term empty homes back into use were not justified, and requested that this be reviewed. The proposed 4% lapse rate in planning permissions was deemed also not to be justified, and instead the Inspector recommended that this should be set at 5%, based on historical data.

Future Examination of the SWDP

The inspector noted that the submission version of the SWDP would lead to an under delivery of 2000 affordable homes over the plan period, although the work required on assessing overall housing need “would likely lead to an increase in the plan’s overall housing requirement” in turn positively impacting on the potential to deliver a greater amount of affordable housing in the area.

The inspector concludes that as a result of the delays encountered by further work being required by the local authorities, “it is not possible at this point to estimate when the examination will progress to Stage 2”, where the non-housing policies of the SWDP will be examined. This in turn therefore will have a knock on effect on the estimated adoption of the plan, originally timetabled for September 2014,which will likely not occur until 2015.

Impact on current and future Planning Applications within SWDP area

This interim report will likely have a number of impacts across the South Worcestershire Planning area, and the three local authorities that have collectively worked on the SWDP. The most significant is the ability for each local authority to demonstrate a continued 5 year housing supply, and therefore, the reduced weight that may need to be given to specific policies of each local authority’s existing development plan.

Whilst Paragraph 216 of the NPPF states that local authorities may give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans, the fact that significant issues with housing levels and distribution remain, along with the inspector concluding that there are conflicts with national policy, indicate that a very limited degree of weight, if any should be given to these emerging policies. It is worth noting that as the inspector declared employment figures to be sound, a stronger degree of weight can now be afforded to general policies in this area, although, specific policies may still have unresolved objections which will be heard at stage 2 of the examination of the plan.

This announcement also acts as a material consideration that each of the three local authorities and inspectors should take this report into account when determining planning applications. Specifically, any reference to figures within the 2012 SHMA should be reviewed, as it has been demonstrated that these figures as they remain are unsound.

More Information

Should you require more information on how this report, the examination of the South Worcestershire Development Plan, or the state of either of the three Local Authorities existing Local Plans may affect your development or local community, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer a wide variety of planning services, and are happy to discuss how this report may impact you.

PJ Planning proud to sponsor Moseley in Bloom

PJ Planning proud to sponsor Moseley in Bloom

PJ Planning is proud to have sponsored Moseley in Bloom, helping the young people of Moseley Schools to develop gardening skills and interests.

Pupils from Queensbridge School in Moseley worked in teams to take a hands on approach not only to gardening, but making use of recyclable materials. Pupils were able to take part in the entire process from planting and growing lavender, to use in food, and designing packaging for seeds. Use of recyclable materials for the design and creation of sachets enabled the pupils to understand the importance of recycling, and how a product can be reused in fun and creative ways, to assist in protecting the environment.

The pupils are currently in the process of working with King David School on further projects, as well as members of the local community to create an urban garden. Their ultimate aim is to sell products at the Moseley Farmers Market, and present to the Royal Horticultural Society Judges.

Minor changes to GDMO- June 2013

Minor changes to GDMO- June 2013

Minor changes to information submitted with Planning Applications- June 2013

Whilst you're still digesting the recent changes to permitted development rights, a further course of changes has arrived in respect of information required to be submitted with planning applications; thankfully these are relatively minor, and appear sensible and uncontroversial.

These come into force on the 25th June 2013 and the main changes are:

    • minor applications (those for less than 10 dwellings, a building of less than 1,000 square metres or more; or on a site of less than 1ha) outside conservation areas will no longer need to be accompanied by a design and access statement,
    • simplification of the required content of design and access statements
    • a right to challenge a local authority's request for additional information to support an application which the applicant considers not to be necessary, and a right of appeal for non-determination where the local authority do not agree
    • removal of the requirement to include both a summary of reasons for the grant of permission and a summary of the policies and proposals in the development plan which are relevant to the decision to grant permission


For further information, please contact John Jowitt:
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact No: 07974 239016

Free Business Drop In Surgury- 20th June

Free Business Drop In Surgury- 20th June

PJ Planning, in collaboration with Kings Chambers and Harrison Clark Rickerbys will be offering a free drop in surgery on Thursday 20th June 2013, from 2 till 7PM. With friendly and approachable experts, advice will be available in a number of areas as follows:

Narvinder Bains- PJ Planning

  • Planning Applications and appeals
  • Retail and commercial property
  • Residential development
  • Telecommunications
  • Waste and renewable energy
  • Green Belt Land.

Heath Thomas: Harrison Clark Rickerbys Solicitors

    • Licensing
      • Retailers
      • Hotels
      • Restaurants
      • Bars and Late Night Entertainment Venues
    • Regulator
      • Health And Safety
      • Fire Safety
      • Food Safety
      • Trading Standards
      • Product Liability
      • Environment, Water & Waste


Sarah Clover- Barrister, Kings Chambers

  • Licensing advice and representation to licensed trade clients.
  • Planning
  • Regulatory
  • Noise & Environmental Nuisance
  • Trading Standards

Refreshments will be provided, and we are also able to provide translations in Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi. No booking is necessary, so just show up on the day. In order to gain maximum benefit from the event please bring any relevant documentation.

Date: Thursday 20th June 2013
Time: 2PM through 7PM
Venue: Kings Chambers Birmingham, Embassy House, 60 Church Street, Birmingham, B4 6DR


May 2013 Planning System Changes

May 2013 Planning System Changes

There are a whole series of changes which have now taken place, or which are about to take place to the planning system. The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 was enacted in the last few days, and the Planning Minister Nick Boles has signalled a Development Order enacting permitted development changes. Please find a summary of the changes set out below.

1. Affordable Housing

With immediate effect, the ability to reconsider economically unviable affordable housing provisions in Section 106 Agreements has been put on a formal statutory footing by the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. A new s106B allows a person who has an affordable housing requirement to apply to the LPA to modify, replace or remove the requirement where the requirement means the development is not economically viable,

The decision by the Council must be made within 28 days or within any other period prescribed by the Secretary of State, and cannot result in the requirement becoming more onerous.

An application may be made to the local planning authority for a revised affordable housing obligation. This application should contain a revised affordable housing proposal, based on prevailing viability, and should be supported by relevant viability evidence. DCLG have provided separate guidance in respect of what evidence may be required to support applications and appeals

Where the local planning authority does not agree with the developer’s revised proposal for affordable housing, or does not determine the application, Section 106BC provides a right of appeal to the Secretary of State.

If allowed, the outcome of a successful appeal would be a revised affordable housing requirement in the Section 106 agreement for three years, starting on the date when the appellant is notified of the appeal decision. If the development is not completed in that time, the original affordable housing obligation will apply to those parts of the scheme which have not been commenced. Developers are therefore incentivised to build out as much of their scheme as possible within 3 years.

The procedures do not replace existing powers to renegotiate Section 106 agreements on a voluntary basis.

Affordable housing obligations on sites granted in accordance with a Rural Exceptions Site policy are exempt from this procedure.

2. Appeal costs

A cost award can be made in an appeal against an appellant or local planning authority where either party is considered to have acted unreasonably. Section 2 of the Act allows the Secretary of State's to also recover his costs in such cases.

3. House extensions

The Act does not allow the long signalled changed to permitted development rights to house extensions; these are widely expected to allow single storey rear extensions up to 8m for a detached house and 6m for other houses, for a three year period. This is likely to be one of the permitted development changes expected at the end of the month. What it does do, however, is set out the requirements to be carried out in respect of any such extension, that is:
i) provide a written description, and a plan, of the proposed development to the local planning authority,

ii) the local planning authority must serve notice of the proposal on the owner or occupier of any adjoining premises, and

iii) that, where an adjoining neighbour objects, the proposed development may be carried out only if the local planning authority consider that it would not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of adjoining premises.

4. Information required with planning applications

In respect of supporting information to be submitted with planning applications, Section 6 of the Act states requirements must now be reasonable having regard to the nature and scale of the proposed development; and can be required only if it is reasonable to consider the matter will be a material consideration in the determination of the application. This will hopefully help to reduce the "it's on our checklist, therefore you've got to provide it" response from local authorities.

5. Change of Use from Office to Residential

Permitted development rights for change of use from B1(a) offices to C3 residential purposes will come into force on 30 May. Exempted councils are:

In London: City of London, Camden, Hackney, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, Westminster,

Rest of the Country: Ashford, East Hampshire, Manchester, Sevenoaks, Stevenage and Vale of White Horse.

6. Retail to other uses:

Similarly, it has been signalled that permitted development for a change of use between other uses will be extended on the 30th May:

A1 (retail), A2 (high street office), A3 (restaurant) A4 (pub) A5 (takeaways) B1 (business ) D1 (non residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) to open for up to two years in buildings designated as A1, A2, A3 and B1 use

7. B class change of use

The threshold for permitted development rights for change of use from B1 (business) or B2 (general industry) to B8 storage and distribution, and from B2 or B8 to B1 is to be increased on the 30th May from 235 square metres to 500 square metres.

8. Schools

Buildings currently in use as B1 offices, C1 hotels, C2 residential and D1 non-residential institutions, and D2 assembly and leisure will be able to change their use permanently to a state-funded school without the need for planning permission from the 30th May. In addition, buildings of any use class will be able to be used as a state-funded school for one academic year.

9. Agricultural uses

Also from the 30th May, redundant agricultural buildings of 500 square metres or less will be able to change to a range of new business uses "to boost the rural economy"


And finally, speaking at the National Infrastructure Planning Association conference in London on the 9th May, the Planning Minister, Nick Boles remarked in a question and answer session that "if anyone comes to me with an idea for new planning legislation I am going to shoot them".

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like further information, or if you have any nominations for targets...

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact No: 07974 239016

Parker Jowitt Planning Ltd.

Trading as PJ Planning
Registered in England no. 6789894
Registered Address: Regent House, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 1TS