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Tools to help you make the case for housing development in planning applications and appeals

Planning Decisions all too often refuse small scale residential developments with the (flawed) reasoning that a small number of houses will make little difference to overall supply, so have limited benefit in the planning balance. How can you overcome this?

A related problem is decision makers’ common assumption that the Local Plan makes adequate provision for housing development. Some officers’ reports have even been known to state, “there’s no need for this development”.  How can an applicant or appellant challenge this assumption and show a real need for a proposed residential development?

We have put together a toolkit of ideas to help you make your planning case on the need for residential development stronger:

Tool 1: Evidence your planning case with facts and figures

P31_facts_vs_opinions.gif

There are too many appeal Decisions where the Inspector dismisses the appeal citing they, “have not been presented with any evidence that the development would address any identified local housing needs”. 

Inspectors like evidence.  It’s concrete, it’s definitive, and they can quote it in their Decision.  If they allow an appeal, they have to provide reasons for coming to a different decision from the local planning authority.  Giving the Inspector authoritative evidence gives them the option of finding housing needs have changed and/or should be given greater weight.

Hard facts can be very persuasive, but you may not have the time to find them. To make it quicker, here’s our ready links to useful datasets:

Tool 2: Use the smallest scale available

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Referring to the missed national target of 300,000 new homes per year is pretty ineffective in winning a planning argument. Housing evidence has to be at the right geographic scale, which means as local as you can get. If you’re really lucky there may be a recent parish or Neighbourhood Plan housing survey, but in most cases the local planning authority area will be the best scale available.

Tool 3: Show how reality squares up with the Plan

P31_set_square.pngMost decision makers will assume the Local Plan makes adequate provision for housing, which can result in a "we don't need your site" mentality. You may need to demonstrate that the Local Plan no longer matches reality on the ground, using up-to-date figures which demonstrate a change since the Local Plan was adopted.  

Ways in which the Local Plan may no longer measure up to reality include:

- failure to meet its housing requirements. For a full briefing see our ‘Insider’s Guide to the Housing Delivery Test’.
- poor delivery of affordable housing. For ideas see ‘winning appeals with good evidence on affordable housing’.
- worsening affordability as reflected in the affordability ratio

A simple graph showing the trend since the Local Plan was adopted can draw attention to the fact the area is failing to meet NPPF para 8b which seeks development, “to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities by ensuring that a sufficient number and range of homes can be provided to meet the needs of present and future generations”.  In turn this may increase the weight the Inspector gives to housing provision in weighing up the benefits against harms in the planning balance.

It’s also well worth checking the Local Plan evidence base. If the Local Plan is under review, recent reports may contain useful new information.

Tool 4: A picture speaks a thousand words

Wherever you can, use graphs, diagrams and maps.

 P31_Birmingham_net_additional_dwellings_graphv2.pngP31_Affordability_Ratio_graph.pngP31_2021-22_map_of_net_additional_dwellings.png

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