The High Court has overturned Eric Pickles’ attempt to refuse 120 homes plus a care home in Sussex on the grounds of conflict with an emerging neighbourhood plan.
Mr Pickles upheld the refusal by Mid-Sussex District Council of the plan by Woodcock Holdings for the mostly greenfield 5.85ha site at Sayers Common.
An inspector recommended approval, but while the communities secretary accepted the plan on locational and economic grounds and, in principle, housing grounds, he gave significant weight to the emerging plan.
“While he appreciates that the remaining stages through which the NP has to pass may show that more land needs to be allocated, he considers that it would be inappropriate to prejudge that at this stage,” said his decision.
The developer challenged the decision on four grounds and Mr Justice Holgate upheld all four.
The Court agreed Mr Pickles had wrongly given significant weight to the site not being identified in the draft neighbourhood plan.
The judgement says his reliance on lack of an objective housing need assessment to increase the weight given to the draft plan only served to demonstrate he failed to take account of the argument there should be no such cap.
It agreed paragraphs 14 and 49 of the NPPF should have been applied to the draft and that the communities secretary had misapplied a prematurity test. Brownfield Briefing
….. [“The title should really be “Draft Neighbourhood Plan- based refusal overturned”. Part of the problem was that it wasn’t finished when Eric Pickles overturned the inspector.”]