This two part post assesses our position for the Rushett Stables appeal and identifies some options that would improve it.
The appeal process
If a local authority refuses planning permission, the applicant can appeal that decision. When this happens the Planning Inspectorate appoints an independent Inspector to examine the evidence used to reach the decision. This is done to ensure that planning law has been correctly interpreted.
- A local authority typically refuses planning permission if the application does not comply with the policies of the local development plan.
Recently introduced rules suspend local strategic policies if the local authority is unable to demonstrate it has a 5 year housing land supply OR has failed to build sufficient new homes over the previous three years.
- When a local authority is sanctioned, the Inspector will consider local strategic policies to be “out-of-date” and will attach little or no weight to them when considering the evidence.
To win an appeal when a local authority is sanctioned, an applicant only has to demonstrate that their proposal complies with NPPF(2019).
If a local community wishes to prevent an appeal being allowed it has to demonstrate that the proposal fails to comply with NPPF(2019).
In most cases, development on Green Belt sites is considered inappropriate. However, NPPF(2019) allows development to take place if “very special circumstances” can be demonstrated. The Inspector’s role is to decide whether the harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness would be clearly outweighed by other considerations, so as to provide the “very special circumstances” necessary to justify the development.
The Inspector’s report for the 2017 appeal for this site is therefore a useful guide as to how this appeal will be assessed. The application is, in essence, the same; however, the circumstances on this occasion are different.
The Rushett Stables application now uses many of the Inspector’s conclusions as evidence to support the current proposal. It also relies on PPTS (Planning Policy for Travellers Sites) and recent case history to quantify the “very special circumstances”.
Much time at the last appeal was spent discussing RBK’s provision of travellers’ pitches.
RBK acknowledged that its provision was insufficient but argued that this would be addressed in the new Local Plan, which was likely to be in place by 2019.
Delays to the timetable to the new London Plan, however, have had a knock on effect with RBK’s timetable. RBK is in exactly the same position now as it was in 2017.
In fact their position is worse – a Gypsy and Travellers Accommodation Need Assessment produced in 2018 for the new Local Plan identified that RBK needs to provide at least an additional 44 new pitches.
RBK’s failure to provide sufficient travellers’ pitches in the borough is likely to carry significant weight again.
Its continued failure to progress policy since the last appeal is likely to carry more weight this time round.
The level of unmet need was afforded considerable weight in 2017. Now that need has been identified at 44 pitches, the Inspector is likely to increase that to substantial.
To win an appeal a community needs to demonstrate that the proposal is NOT in accord with NPPF(2019).
Emotive arguments, such as “we don’t want a travellers’ site in our community” will carry no weight. Additionally, a community can confirm its level of opposition with a written representation supported by a community consultation.
Remarkably, the MRRA has not consulted its members or the wider community on this proposal.
Whilst it is likely it will submit a representation stating that residents oppose this application, without any supporting evidence, the Inspector will be unable afford this any weight.
There are approximately 300 residents in Malden Rushett.
A strongly supported consultation with a clear response would significantly improve our position.