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CEG Land Promotions II Limited vs. Secretary of State

CEG Land Promotions II Ltd have been unsuccessful in challenging the decision of the Inspector in refusing their appeal for 175 dwellings and associated development on land adjoining Wendover in Aylesbury Vale District (decision dated 9/10/2017).

In the appeal decision the Inspector found that the site constituted a ‘valued landscape’ in accordance with paragraph 109 of the NPPF, however, found that this was not a restrictive policy and thus – due to the lack of a five-year housing land supply in Aylesbury Vale District at that time – applied the tilted balance set out at paragraph 14 of the NPPF.

The challenge was on two grounds:

  • Ground 1A – that the Inspector had irrationally double-counted the policy conflict of the Local Plan landscape policies and the conflict with paragraph 109 of the NPPF; and
  • Ground 1 – which contended that it was unlawful to find that the site was a valued landscape by virtue of characteristics of a wider area (in this case the setting of an AONB).

The claim failed on both grounds.  In the terms of Ground 1A, it was found that it would indeed be irrational to double count harm against Local Plan policy and paragraph 109 of the NPPF, as the local policy is given weight by virtue of it reflects the requirements of paragraph 109; however in this instance it was not considered that the Inspector had made such an error.  In terms of Ground 1, Justice Ouseley found that the context of the wider landscape could be a “demonstrable physical attribute” that lawfully led to the consideration of a site as a ‘valued landscape’ against the requirements of the NPPF.

With the restrictive policies of the NPPF expected to become a closed list in the coming days when the new NPPF is published, the connotations of this case are reduced.  However this may empower local authorities to classify more sites as a valued landscape due to the wider landscape setting, even if it would not lead to the disapplication of the tilted balance.

The full decision can be read here.

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