The Supreme Court has issued its judgment on the cases of Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes Ltd and Richborough Estates Partnership LLP v Cheshire East Borough Council. Both cases related to the interpretation of NPPF Paragraphs 14 and 49.
The judgement provides clarity as to the interpretation of housing guidance within the NPPF as well as recognising that there has been an over-reliance on the Courts to interpret the NPPF.
The judgement clarifies that the NPPF is no more than ‘guidance’ and as such a ‘material consideration’. The judgement states that it cannot, and does not purport to, displace the primacy of the statutory development plan. This simply reinforces that the development plan should be the starting point of assessing the acceptability of a proposed development, irrespective of the Plan’s age.
The judgement essentially has the effect of confirming the role of the decision maker in assessing the weight that should be attached to planning policies that affect the supply of housing, rather than relying on a narrow interpretation of the guidance included in the NPPF.
The decision is important for those promoting residential development in areas deficient in housing supply, where broader land use policies are in place that seek to constrain development for environmental or amenity purposes.