With a growing population and relatively low levels of new house-building taking place, the UK property market has suffered a perennial shortage of housing. Under the National Planning Policy Framework, councils are obligated to confirm on an annual basis that they have a supply of deliverable sites which are capable of meeting their housing demand for the next five years.
The word ‘deliverable’ is key in planning law, as a recent appeal to the Planning Inspectorate shows. Deliverable in this context means sites for which there is ‘clear evidence’ that completions of housing will begin within five years. Therefore, sites in the early part of the planning process or identified as suitable for development may not qualify – even those with outline planning permission may not be considered to be deliverable.
Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the relevant planning authority to provide evidence that the granting of outline planning permission is likely to lead to the properties actually being built within the required time frame.
In a case dealing with this point, a council claimed that more than 1,000 dwellings for which outline planning permission had been granted should be included in its housing supply and it therefore turned down a developer’s application to build 49 new homes.
The Inspectorate rejected the council’s argument, siding instead with the planning inspector, who argued that to include those potential new houses in its supply of deliverable housing was far short of meeting the evidential requirement that the housing could actually be delivered within a five-year period.
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