When the NPPF was published, many of the anti-development lobby claimed there would a rash of planning applications and that it would be the end of the Green Belt as we know it. The reality is very different.
Recent decisions suggest that, at least in the run up to next year’s General Election, Ministers are continuing to take a strong line on Green Belt applications and to support local planning authorities’ decisions. Following on from the well publicised Thundersley decision, the Secretary of State refused permission in Nuneaton for two schemes involving residential and marina development. Both the Inspector and the Secretary of State held that there were merits in the schemes, but in disagreeing with the Inspector the Secretary of State held that the benefits did not “clearly outweigh the harm” to the Green Belt.
There is evidence though that where there are specific and particular local circumstances, the Secretary of State is prepared to leave decisions on the release of Green Belt land to be taken at the local level. The Secretary of State has declined to call in applications in Mole Valley, Broxbourne (on two occasions) and Redbridge in these circumstances; and most recently Central Bedfordshire - where longstanding plans for a major mixed use urban extension and supporting infrastructure on Green Belt land north of Houghton Regis have not been called-in.
The position with regards to plan-making though is somewhat different. At Reigate & Banstead the Inspector concluded that a wider Green Belt review was required in order to meet housing needs, drawing a distinction between the planning application and plan-making processes. Similarly in Leeds, the Inspector has concluded that a wider Green Belt review is needed.
It is clear that, in the interests of achieving sustainable development, the role and function of the Green Belt around settlements will need to be considered through the plan making process. However, it is also clear that in relation to planning applications Very Special Circumstances continues to mean just that and that housing need on its own is not sufficient to have land released for development.
The latest independent Scottish planning review and its impacts
27 June 2016
An independent review of the Scottish planning system has seen that further change is required to make the system fit for the future.
Changes to permitted development rights
16 March 2016
The Government has published additional and revised ‘permitted development rights’ to allow change of use of property without planning permission, coming into force on 6 April 2016.