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Five Year Supply of Deliverable Traveller Sites

Richard Honey

Judgment has been handed down in the case of Swale BC v SSHCLG & Maughan [2018] EWHC 3402 (Admin) by CMG Ockelton sitting as a Judge of the High Court.  The case concerned the policy in Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS) that local planning authorities should identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable traveller sites sufficient to provide five years’ worth of sites against their targets, and that, if an authority cannot demonstrate such a supply, this should be a significant material consideration when considering the grant of temporary permission. 

The claimant argued that the Court of Appeal judgment in Hallam Land Management v SSCLG [2018] EWCA Civ 1808 applied to these provisions of PPTS, as it did to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and meant that an inspector was required to express in the decision letter a conclusion on the amount of the shortfall in the five year supply, at least as an approximate figure or range, so as to identify the broad magnitude of the shortfall.

The Judge considered Hallam and concluded at [21]:

“It seems to me that the proposition properly to be derived from the majority judgment in Hallam is that the level of specificity or calculation required in assessing the degree of shortfall for the purposes of applying the tilted balance in paragraph 14 of the 2012 NPPF depends on the material put to the decision-maker and the degree of variation revealed by that material.  I do not read the judgment of Davis LJ as contradicting that proposition or adding anything essential to it.”

He went on to conclude on the two issues in the case:

(1) there are differences of significance between the NPPF and PPTS so that not “everything that one reads in Hallam is without more to be applied to a case of this sort” [24]; and

(2) even if the requirements of Hallam were applicable to PPTS, the inspector met them by describing the shortfall as “substantial” and he “was not required to express in his decision the outcome of the applicability of the usual formula” [25].

The Judge therefore dismissed the challenge.

Richard Honey appeared for the successful Secretary of State, instructed by the Government Legal Department.