Gladman planning case demonstrates pragmatic approach to appeals

House plan and builder Print publication


5 Year Land Supply – A baseline and not a ceiling

The Secretary of State’s recent decision, in an appeal run by Gladman at Long Melford, Suffolk, highlighted that a five year land supply is “a baseline and not a ceiling”[1]. The local authority could demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply and the tilted balance was not engaged. However, the appellant demonstrated there was a local need for market and affordable housing. This was given significant weight and appears to have been central to the Secretary of State’s decision to allow the appeal.

Gladman appealed against Babergh District Council’s failure to determine their outline application for 150 units. The appeal was recovered by the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government.

The appeal site is a greenfield site in the countryside and the scheme was found to be in conflict with the development plan. However, the Inspector determined that the Council could not demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing land. He therefore applied the tilted balance in paragraph 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework. The Inspector concluded that the limited harms identified would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the scheme and that planning permission ought to be granted.

Following the preparation of the Inspector’s Report, the Council published its Housing Land Supply Position Statement. The Secretary of State was satisfied that the Council could now demonstrate a housing land supply of 5.67 years. The Secretary of State therefore applied the classic planning balance, rather than the titled balance.

The Secretary of State highlighted that:

  • a 5 year land supply “is a baseline and not a ceiling”;
  • the appellant had demonstrated a local need for both market and affordable housing in this particular settlement; and
  • “In the light of the identified local need, and the Government’s objective of significantly boosting the supply of homes…he considers that the housing delivery should carry significant weight”[2].

The Secretary of State gave weight to other site-specific benefits of the scheme and concluded that the appeal should be allowed.

It is hoped that this case is an early example of the Secretary of State adopting a positive attitude to planning appeals, to assist in the economic recovery from the current crisis. The decisions issued in the coming weeks will need to be closely monitored. Particularly to see if they follow the advice of Steve Quartermain, in his final Chief Planners letter, to “Be practical, be pragmatic and let’s plan for the recovery”.


[1] Paragraph 53 of the Appeal Decision

[2] Paragraph 53 of the Appeal Decision