Skip to main content

Linton Neighbourhood Plan: What scope does the Council have to modify a Neighbourhood Plan?


Neighbourhood Plan, what scope does local planning authority have to modify a Neighbourhood Plan
I was reviewing recent appeal decisions, and came across the case of the Linton Neighbourhood Plan. The plan had previously been subject to a legal challenge, which highlights the scope a local authority has in modifying a Neighbourhood Plan once it has been independently examined. Specifically, this article discusses the modifications set out in the Examiner's Report, following the Independent Examination and prior to the referendum - not substantive changes differing from the recommendations of the examiner, or undertaken at a different stage in the process.

Planning Appeal

In the appeal decision, a Planning Inspector has granted outline planning permission for 26 dwellings at Ridge Meadows, Northgate Lane / Tibgarth, Linton, West Yorkshire. The site is located within the area of Leeds City Council, and within the Linton Neighbourhood Area. The decision was issued on 14 December 2018, under appeal reference: APP/N4720/W/17/3186216.

In summary, Leeds City Council is unable to demonstrate a five year supply of housing land, meaning the Planning Inspector applied the 'tilted balance' - treating some policies as 'out-of-date' and testing whether the proposal will result in 'adverse harm'. You can read more about how you can make your Neighbourhood Plan resilient to the 'tilted balance' in my article "Presumption-proofing" Neighbourhood Plans.

The appeal site is located in an area which has been safeguarded for future development since 2001. In other words, reserved for future development, rather than being made available for development at present. The Planning Inspector considered a number of other issues relating to the sustainability of the site, including access to services and facilities, pedestrian safety, etc.

The Planning Inspector noted that the Linton Neighbourhood Plan (LNP) does not include any policy which restricts development of the site, meaning the scheme does not conflict with the LNP. You can read more about the issue of 'conflict' with a Neighbourhood Plan in my post Conflict with a Neighbourhood Plan & how to provide certainty on the location of development. Interestingly, the LNP does express its objection to development at 'The Ridge' - an issue I will return to later.

The appeal is quite unexceptional, and not altogether interesting for those of us involved in writing Neighbourhood Plans. However, what is perhaps more interesting is the Linton Neighbourhood Plan itself, and the challenge it previously faced through the courts.

Legal challenge on the Linton Neighbourhood Plan

When Collingham and Linton Parish Council submitted the draft LNP for independent examination, the draft LNP included a policy which, in essence, sought to restrict development of the appeal site (The Ridge) until a later time.

The Independent Examiner recommended the policy, and its associated supporting text, be deleted as the issue of development of The Ridge is a strategic matter under consideration of Leeds City Council, and is addressed by an existing policy which the LNP had simply re-stated. Leeds City Council amended the LNP and it proceeded to referendum. 

Kebbell Developments Ltd challenged the LNP in the High Court on claiming that Leeds City Council had, in modifying the plan, gone above and beyond the examiner's recommendations. 

Leeds City Council had deleted the offending policy and supporting text, but also inserted text which described a number of reasons why the appeal site was considered not suitable for development, including visual impact, traffic issues and access to facilities.

In addition, the LNP included a "Project Priorities List" - a list of projects and issues which reflects the community's aspirations for the area, but which is not in itself a planning policy. This list made reference to the now deleted policy, and therefore naturally needed to be corrected. However Leeds City Council retained text which expressed the Parish Council's aspiration to return the appeal site to Green Belt.

However, the challenge was rejected by the High Court in October 2016, and the verdict was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in March 2018.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) sets out the modifications which a local authority is permitted to make to a Neighbourhood Plan.  In his appeal decision, Lord Justice Lindblom identifies that the Act provides local authorities with "broad discretion in considering whether a particular modification is necessary for the purposes of satisfying the 'basic conditions'.
One must not adopt too narrow an understanding of the local planning authority's statutory power to make modifications 
Lord Justice Lindblom

The Act provides local authorities with the power to correct errors. Lord Justice Lindblom considers that this is not confined to the correction of "typographical mistakes and other minor infelicities", but includes amendments necessary to achieve accuracy and consistency in the wording of policies and their supporting text.

Whilst the examiner required the policy and supporting text to be deleted, he did not, conclude that the neighbourhood plan should avoid referring to the parish council's opinion on the development potential of the sites listed. By including the parish council's view (that The Ridge should be retained as Green Belt) in the Neighbourhood Plan will have some status when making planning decisions, despite this potentially contradicting with strategic matters of the Development Plan. Lord Justice Lindblom noted the issue, but concluded this is a matter to be resolved during the determination of a planning application.

The issue of the status of 'supporting text' contained in a Neighbourhood Plan is an interesting one and  a topic I will return to in a future post, no doubt. 

What we can learn

All Neighbourhood Plans, must be examined before they may proceed to a referendum in which people will vote on whether the plan should be 'made' by the local authority. For the vast majority of Neighbourhood Plans, the examiner will recommend some 'modifications' - specific changes to ensure the plan meets the 'basic conditions'. It is therefore very likely you will, at some point, have a conversation with your district or borough council about how your plan should be modified.

This Linton case should give some comfort that the local authority has broad discretion in modifying the plan. For example, where the examiner's modifications relating to subjects which are sensitive, you may want to think carefully about how the plan should be amended.

Perhaps the ruling may affect how examiner's make modifications. Why bother setting out detailed modifications if the local authority has the power to do something different? The examiner can simply describe how the plan should be modified, and leave it up to local authority and parish council to figure out precisely how this should be achieved.

Ultimately, how the plan is modified must address the examiner's concerns and give the local authority confidence that the plan meets the 'basic conditions'.

In the Linton case, Kebbell Developments were both the appellant in the planning appeal, and launched the legal challenge of the LNP. Clearly, Kebbell Developments has got what it wanted through the granting of the planning permission. It must have been quite an ordeal for the parish council and city council, to experience the LNP being challenged in the High Court - and is not what most people would expect to face when preparing a Neighbourhood Plan.

However, the case is helpful in that it confirms the broad powers that local planning authorities (i.e. district and borough councils) have to modify a plan. By working collaboratively with the local planning authority, this may help to ensure the community's 'voice' is retained in the Neighbourhood Plan.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans made in July 2019

Neighbourhood Plans provide a bespoke planning framework for the local area. No two plans are alike, although many have similar characteristics and address common themes. This post provides a short summary of those Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in July 2019, highlighting the elements which make each plan locally specific and unique.

The purpose of this post is to celebrate the achievement of those communities in successfully preparing their Neighbourhood Plans, and to share the interesting ideas and policies for the benefit of others who are currently writing their plans. Links to the Neighbourhood Plans are provided throughout the post.
Navigate this post using the map July was a busy month, with a whopping 24 Neighbourhood Plans successfully passing referendum. To  make it easier to navigate this post, the location of the areas covered by each new Neighbourhood Plan are shown on the interactive map. Click on a marker to reveal a link to the plan's su…

Why the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan failed

News that the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan was rejected at referendum has spread rapidly across social media and has even been picked up by local and national press - see BBC article.

The story has garnered a lot of attention as it is highly unusual for a Neighbourhood Plan to be rejected. The Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan is only the third Neighbourhood Plan not to be supported by residents.

At the referendum held on 14 March 2019, the Neighbourhood Plan was rejected, albeit by a very slim margin of just 22 votes.
'No' Campaign Prior to the referendum, Labour town councillors led a campaign which encouraged local people to vote against the Neighbourhood Plan. 
Based on the literature shared by the campaign group, opposition to the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan appears to be pointed at three key issues: Impacts on the town and its infrastructure of the overall scale of growth Middlewich is expected deliverDisagreement with the individual sites identified by the Neighbourhood …

Latest stats show continued increase in house-building

Chart: All Things Neighbourhood Planning
Data source: Live tables on housebuilding: new build dwellings (Table 209), MHCLG

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has today published its latest data on house building in the United Kingdom. The graph shows the number of dwellings completed by financial year in England. Data is also available for the other home nations. However, Neighbourhood Planning is a feature of the English planning system only.

In 2017/18, there were more than 160,500 new homes constructed. - the highest rate of development since the financial crisis of 2007-08. As illustrated in the graph, the data shows a steady increase in number of homes built each year since the low-point of 2012-13, where less than 108,000 homes were built. 

The rate of development in 2017/18 is comparable to the period 2004 - 2006. Assuming this trend of increasing development rates continues into the current financial year, the number of homes constructed in 2018/19 could po…

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans Made in September 2019

This post explores Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in September 2019, highlighting elements which make each plan locally specific and unique. The following Neighbourhood Plans passed referendum in September 2019:
Bawtry Neighbourhood Plan (Doncaster Council)Brackenfield Neighbourhood Plan (North East Derbyshire District Council)Chelford Neighbourhood Plan (Cheshire East Council)Congresbury Neighbourhood Plan (North Somerset Council)Glentworth Neighbourhood Plan (West Lindsey District Council)Hanslope Neighbourhood Plan (Milton Keynes Council)Hullavington Neighbourhood Plan (Wiltshire Council)Huntingdon Neighbourhood Plan (Huntingdonshire District Council)Misterton Neighbourhood Plan (Bassetlaw District Council)Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers Neighbourhood Plan (Epping Forest District Council)Sedgefield Neighbourhood Plan (Durham County Council)Sedgeford Neighbourhood Plan (Kings Lynn & West Norfolk District Council)Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan (Sidmo…

Attitudes to house building

Neighbourhood Plans must provide a shared vision for their area, with consultation with the local community forming a key part of their preparation.

Critically, Neighbourhood Plans must pass a referendum in which local people are invited to vote on whether the plan should be used in decision-making. Therefore a plan's success is dependent on community support.

Many Neighbourhood Plans take on the challenge of planning for housing development, an issue which can prove divisive for some communities.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has recently reported its latest research on public attitudes to house building. The report presents findings from the 2018 British Social Attitudes Survey. This annual survey provides interesting insight into changing views over time.
Support and opposition for house building  The 2018 survey found that the majority of people support house building. 57% of people support more homes being built in the local area. However almost…

Essential reading for Neighbourhood Planners

Through my site neighbourhood-planning.co.uk I have attempted to explain the neighbourhood planning process, and provide regular blog posts on the latest issues affecting neighbourhood planning. But where can you go to find out more?

In this article I attempt to summarise where you should go for the most useful information and guidance, and where you can find funding and support for writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality Toolkits and Guidance Locality administer the government's current programme of support for neighbourhood planning groups, and Locality's neighbourhoodplanning.org site should be your first port of call when writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality has produced an excellent series of 'toolkits & guidance' on a range of issues to assist the preparation of neighbourhood plans. It is difficult to understate how valuable Locality's guides are for budding neighbourhood planners. Be sure you don't miss: The Neighbourhood Plans Roadmap 2018 by Dave …

Neighbourhood Planning and Community Health and Wellbeing - Briefing Note for NALC

I have teamed up with the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) to author a briefing note on Neighbourhood Planning and Community Health and Wellbeing.

The briefing note illustrates how Neighbourhood Plans can actively contribute to improving health and wellbeing in their communities, and draws on recent examples of neighbourhood plan policies. Neighbourhood Plans can tackle issues of health and wellbeing in lots of different ways, as explained in the briefing note, and is something I will be making the case for in future blog posts.

A pdf version of the briefing note is available to view and download below. Further advice on neighbourhood planning is also available from NALC's website.




Just how big is an infill site? Appeal decision: Chinnor, Oxfordshire

An appeal decision initially caught my eye due to its surprising interpretation of 'infill development' -  but also raises some concerning issues around how Neighbourhood Plan policies are applied during the decision-making process.

The appeal relates to an application for the construction of up to 140 dwellings, new public open space, associated landscaping and site infrastructure on a 3.9ha site at Chinnor, Oxfordshire. The application was made by Persimmon Homes and initially refused by South Oxfordshire District Council. The appeal was allowed, meaning the Planning Inspector went against the district council's decision grant planning permission for the scheme. Details of the appeal can be found using the following reference APP/Q3115/W/17/3187058. Neighbourhood Plan & Development Plan Chinnor is a large village in Oxfordshire. The Chinnor Neighbourhood Plan (CNP) was 'made' in October 2017. When the appeal commenced, the Neighbourhood Plan was less than one…

Neighbourhood Plan Review: Plans Made in August 2019

No two Neighbourhood Plans are alike, although many have similar characteristics and address common themes. This post provides a short summary of those Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in August 2019, highlighting the elements which make each plan locally specific and unique.

August plans contained lessons in semantics; aspirations for "harmonious living" for those with specialist housing needs; support for rural enterprise through homes on the farm;  biodiversity off-setting; and protection of essential local facilities - notably, the public toilet. August saw a plan which previously fell foul of the regulations finally find success; and several 'concise' plans pass referendum - the shortest containing just three policies.

Navigate this post using the links...
Broadwas and Cotheridge Neighbourhood PlanBroadwindsor Neighbourhood PlanChirton and Conock Neighbourhood PlanCrowan Parish Neighbourhood PlanHailey Neighbourhood PlanHaughley Neighbourh…

Secretary of State overturns Planning Inspector's decision due to density concerns

Normally, planning appeals are determined by Planning Inspectors, but in some circumstances appeals may be 'recovered' for determination by the Secretary of State (SoS). The current SoS for Housing, Communities and Local Government is James Brokenshire MP.

In December 2018, the SoS issued a decision on a recovered appeal at Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire. The proposal for residential development of up to 203 dwellings, a doctor’s surgery, open space and landscaping, together with pedestrian, cycle and vehicular access, was initially refused by Milton Keynes Council, and following appeal, granted permission by a Planning Inspector. However, the SoS recovered the appeal and overturned the Inspector's decision, dismissing the appeal.

Details of the case are available on the Planning Inspectorate's website, using case reference: APP/Y0435/W/17/3169314.
Appeal site & Neighbourhood Plan The appeal site is a 15.2 hectare, greenfield site, located outside the development bo…