Neighbourhood Plans become more local
16th November, 2016
Last week, the High Court, in RLT Built Environment Ltd v Cornwall Council  EWHC 2817 (Admin,) ruled that a policy within a Neighbourhood Plan, which prohibited new dwellings to be used as holiday homes, was lawful.
A neighbourhood plan is a document drawn up by communities to shape development in their local area. It was one of the key tenets of the previous government’s localism agenda –putting power back into the hands of local people and communities.
In the UK, second home ownership has risen sharply since the 1990s – especially in rural and coastal areas. Critics argue that second homes distort the local housing market, making it difficult for local people – especially young people – to get on the housing ladder.
St Ives has one of the highest proportions of second homes and holiday lets in Cornwall and to address this, St Ives Town Council prepared a draft Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP). It included a policy, requiring new open market housing to be occupied as a principal residence – which would effectively mean all new residential development only being available to locals or people moving permanently into the area.
The St Ives draft NDP was put forward to a referendum, in which voters were asked whether Cornwall Council (the local planning authority) should use the NDP to help decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area.
On a turnout of just under 50%, the vast majority (83%) of voters were in favour.
RLT Built Environment Ltd sought to challenge the making of the Neighbourhood Plan, by way of a judicial review on the grounds that there had been inadequate consideration of reasonable alternatives to the Plan’s policies – such as increasing the supply of available market housing for local people to buy – and that it was incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is a right to respect for private and family life.
The Court rejected those arguments. In regard to the reasonable alternative point, the Court noted that the Directive did not require the local authority to assess ‘obvious non-starters’ – such as a significant increase in house building. The policy was drawn up not merely to increase the supply of housing for local people, but specifically to reduce the proportion of second homes in St Ives. Article 8 rights were sufficiently protected due to there being a legitimate public interest and a existing safeguards in place, such as the requirement for the Council to consider whether it would be expedient to take enforcement action (together with the possibility of an appeal) against any breaches of the policy.
The judgment will be a boost to local residents of St Ives and to residents of other areas especially those in rural areas affected by high numbers of second homes and highlights how NDPs can make a real and demonstrable impact on local communities.
For more information on neighbourhood plans or localism generally, please contact the Aaron & Partners Planning department.
Direct dial: 01244 405404
Email: [email protected]
Partner & Head of Planning
Direct dial: 01244 405538
Email: [email protected]
You might also be interested in...
22nd May, 2018
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May, businesses across Shropshire have been flocking to hear more about the new laws Paul Bennett, a partner at law firm Aaron & Partners LLP, has been delivering seminars in partnership with the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce An employment solicitor from Shrewsbury is urging businesses across the... Read More »
15th May, 2018
Experienced HR leader joins Aaron & Partners LLP Law firm with offices in Chester and Shrewsbury appoints Kate Robertson to drive HR strategy for more than 120 staff and to support the company’s growth Chester law firm Aaron & Partners LLP has strengthened its senior leadership team with the appointment of an experienced human resources manager. Kate Robertson... Read More »
24th April, 2018
Jan Chillery, Insolvency Partner at Aaron & Partners LLP, shares her experience and the reasons why we should be cautious before paying so-called “bailiffs” over the phone or online without vetting them first. My neighbour has told me that recently he had a CCJ (County Court Judgment) against him. A day or so later, he received a phone call... Read More »