ON APPEAL FROM THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
MR JUSTICE OUSELEY
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
Lord Justice McCombe
Lord Justice Lindblom
| St Modwen Developments Ltd.
|- and -
Secretary of State for Communities and
East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Save Our Ferriby Action Group
Mr Richard Honey (instructed by the Government Legal Department) for the
Mr Paul Tucker Q.C. and Mr Freddie Humphreys (instructed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council) for the Second Respondent
Ms Emma Reid-Chalmers (Pro bono instructed by direct access) for the Third Respondent
Hearing date: 8 June 2017
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Lindblom:
The issues in the appeal
(1) Did the Secretary of State misinterpret or misapply government policy for the supply of housing in paragraph 47 of the NPPF, and, in particular, the concepts of "supply" and "delivery", and were his relevant reasons clear and adequate (grounds 5 and 6)?
(2) Did the Secretary of State misdirect himself, or fail to provide clear and adequate reasons, in his conclusions on the council's housing trajectory (grounds 1 to 4)?
(3) Did the Secretary of State err in law in his conclusions on the council's record of housing delivery (ground 7)?
The principles on which the court will act in a section 288 challenge
"(1) Decisions of the Secretary of State and his inspectors in appeals against the refusal of planning permission are to be construed in a reasonably flexible way. Decision letters are written principally for parties who know what the issues between them are and what evidence and argument has been deployed on those issues. An inspector does not need to "rehearse every argument relating to each matter in every paragraph" (see the judgment of Forbes J. in Seddon Properties v Secretary of State for the Environment (1981) 42 P. & C.R. 26, at p.28).
(2) The reasons for an appeal decision must be intelligible and adequate, enabling one to understand why the appeal was decided as it was and what conclusions were reached on the "principal important controversial issues". An inspector's reasoning must not give rise to a substantial doubt as to whether he went wrong in law, for example by misunderstanding a relevant policy or by failing to reach a rational decision on relevant grounds. But the reasons need refer only to the main issues in the dispute, not to every material consideration (see the speech of Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood in South Bucks District Council and another v Porter (No. 2)  1 WLR 1953, at p.1964B-G).
(3) The weight to be attached to any material consideration and all matters of planning judgment are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the decision-maker. They are not for the court. A local planning authority determining an application for planning permission is free, "provided that it does not lapse into Wednesbury irrationality" to give material considerations "whatever weight [it] thinks fit or no weight at all" (see the speech of Lord Hoffmann in Tesco Stores Limited v Secretary of State for the Environment  1 WLR 759, at p.780F-H). And, essentially for that reason, an application under section 288 of the 1990 Act does not afford an opportunity for a review of the planning merits of an inspector's decision (see the judgment of Sullivan J., as he then was, in Newsmith v Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions  EWHC Admin 74, at paragraph 6).
(4) Planning policies are not statutory or contractual provisions and should not be construed as if they were. The proper interpretation of planning policy is ultimately a matter of law for the court. The application of relevant policy is for the decision-maker. But statements of policy are to be interpreted objectively by the court in accordance with the language used and in its proper context. A failure properly to understand and apply relevant policy will constitute a failure to have regard to a material consideration, or will amount to having regard to an immaterial consideration (see the judgment of Lord Reed in Tesco Stores v Dundee City Council  PTSR 983, at paragraphs 17 to 22).
(5) When it is suggested that an inspector has failed to grasp a relevant policy one must look at what he thought the important planning issues were and decide whether it appears from the way he dealt with them that he must have misunderstood the policy in question (see the judgment of Hoffmann L.J., as he then was, South Somerset District Council v The Secretary of State for the Environment (1993) 66 P. & C.R. 80, at p.83E-H).
(6) Because it is reasonable to assume that national planning policy is familiar to the Secretary of State and his inspectors, the fact that a particular policy is not mentioned in the decision letter does not necessarily mean that it has been ignored (see, for example, the judgment of Lang J. in Sea Land Power & Energy Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 1419 (QB), at paragraph 58).
(7) Consistency in decision-making is important both to developers and local planning authorities, because it serves to maintain public confidence in the operation of the development control system. But it is not a principle of law that like cases must always be decided alike. An inspector must exercise his own judgment on this question, if it arises (see, for example, the judgment of Pill L.J. in Fox Strategic Land and Property Ltd. v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  1 P. & C.R. 6, ( EWCA Civ 1198, at paragraphs 12 to 14, citing the judgment of Mann L.J. in North Wiltshire District Council v Secretary of State for the Environment  65 P. & C.R. 137, at p.145)."
Paragraphs 47 and 49 of the NPPF
"47. To boost significantly the supply of housing, local planning authorities should:
- use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in this Framework, including identifying key sites which are critical to the delivery of the housing strategy over the plan period;
- identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing against their housing requirements with an additional buffer of 5% (moved forward from later in the plan period) to ensure choice and competition in the market for land. Where there has been a record of persistent under delivery of housing, local planning authorities should increase the buffer to 20% (moved forward from later in the plan period) to provide a realistic prospect of achieving the planned supply and to ensure choice and competition in the market for land;
- identify a supply of specific, developable sites or broad locations for growth, for years 6-10 and, where possible, for years 11-15;
- for market and affordable housing, illustrate the expected rate of housing delivery through a housing trajectory for the plan period and set out a housing implementation strategy for the full range of housing describing how they will maintain delivery of a five-year supply of housing land to meet their housing target; and
- set out their own approach to housing density to reflect local circumstances."
The word "deliverable" in that paragraph is explained in a footnote – footnote 11 – which states:
"To be considered deliverable, sites should be available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years and in particular that development of the site is viable. Sites with planning permission should be considered deliverable until permission expires, unless there is clear evidence that schemes will not be implemented within five years, for example they will not be viable, there is no longer a demand for the type of units or sites have long term phasing plans."
Footnote 12 explains the word "developable":
"To be considered developable, sites should be in a suitable location for housing development and there should be a reasonable prospect that the site is available and could be viably developed at the point envisaged."
"49. Housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites."
The consequences for a local planning authority of its failing or succeeding in this fundamental requirement of national planning policy need no further explanation by the court (see Suffolk Coastal District Council, in particular the judgment of Lord Carnwath at paragraph 59, and the judgment of Lord Gill at paragraphs 80 to 85; and Barwood v East Staffordshire Borough Council, in particular my judgment at paragraph 22).
"Deliverable sites for housing could include those that are allocated for housing in the development plan and sites with planning permission (outline or full that have not been implemented) unless there is clear evidence that schemes will not be implemented within five years.
However, planning permission or allocation in a development plan is not a prerequisite for a site being deliverable in terms of the five-year supply. Local planning authorities will need to provide robust, up to date evidence to support the deliverability of sites, ensuring that their judgements on deliverability are clearly and transparently set out. If there are no significant constraints … to overcome[,] such as infrastructure[,] sites not allocated within a development plan or without planning permission can be considered capable of being delivered within a five-year timeframe.
Paragraph 3-033-20150327, under the heading "Updating evidence on the supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing against housing requirements", was published on 27 March 2015, and was thus extant at the time of the Secretary of State's decision in this case. It states:
[The NPPF] requires local planning authorities to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years' worth of housing. As part of this, local planning authorities should consider both the delivery of sites against the forecast trajectory and also the deliverability of all the sites in the five year supply.
Local planning authorities should ensure that they carry out their annual assessment in a robust and timely fashion, based on up-to-date and sound evidence, taking into account the anticipated trajectory of housing delivery, and consideration of associated risks, and an assessment of the local delivery record. Such assessment, including the evidence used, should be realistic and made publicly available in an accessible format. …
The previous version of that paragraph of the PPG, published on 6 March 2014, stated:
[The NPPF] requires local planning authorities to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years' worth of housing. As part of this, the local planning authority should consider both the delivery of sites against the forecast trajectory and also the deliverability of all the sites in the five year supply. By taking a thorough approach on an annual basis, local planning authorities will be in a strong position to demonstrate a robust five year supply of sites.
The inspector's report and the Secretary of State's decision letter
(i) the relationship of the proposals to the current and emerging development plan and to national planning policy;
(ii) the adequacy of the provision for housing in the East Riding of Yorkshire, including for affordable housing, and the contribution which either proposal could make to that supply;
(iii) the particular contribution made by the appeal site to the supply of employment land and to wider economic development objectives, including the potential of the Humber to become established as a centre for renewable energy;
"13.63. With regard to the five year housing requirement, I consider that the Council's figure of just over 10,000 for the housing market area is to be preferred, on the basis that it accords most closely with the relevant national policy and offers a reasonably robust, full, objective assessment of need. Use of an HMA-based figure should be understood as part of the first stage of formulating the requirement according to national policy rather than the second stage of applying a constraint on the basis of local policy making. The Secretary of State may conclude that the requirement should be based on the ERYC administrative area, in which case the Council's figure of just under 14,000 is to be preferred over the Appellant's figure of 15,300.
13.64. The Appellant's approach to the assessment of housing land supply is fundamentally flawed so that the Council's assessment of supply, at almost 15,000, is also to be preferred. Thus, whether the analysis is based on the HMA or the ERYC area, I consider that the Council has demonstrated the existence of a five year housing land supply. Even if the Appellant's five year housing requirement of 15,300 is taken, the shortfall of 300 would be modest in the context of the overall requirement, making it debatable whether any adverse effect on housing delivery due to supply constraints would be identifiable in practice.
13.65. Since it has not been shown that there is any pressing need for additional sites to come forward to sustain the local supply of housing, I consider that the appeal proposals would not deliver additional benefits by virtue of their contribution to that supply. The contribution of the proposals to the supply of affordable housing is a different matter. Here, significant need has been demonstrated and it seems likely that such need will persist. For that reason, substantial weight should attach to the proposals, in proportion to the extra contribution they would make to the supply of affordable housing."
"14.6. The first … has not been demonstrated. The Council's assessment of the position as to the housing requirement and the housing land supply has been shown to be reasonably robust when tested at this inquiry. This would be the case whether the housing requirement was taken as that for the housing market area or the ERYC administrative area. In either case, a five year supply of sites exists. Since the identified supply already satisfies the test of boosting significantly the supply of deliverable sites, the proposals would not deliver any additional benefit in this respect."
On the likely "adverse impacts" of the proposed development, she concluded, in paragraph 14.10, that "[the] proposals would have a significant, detrimental effect on the portfolio of employment land", and "would also undermine wider economic development objectives …", and, in paragraph 14.16, that "a grant of planning permission for either proposal would strike at the heart of key strategic decisions in the emerging ERYC Local Plan, thus undermining the plan-making process", and therefore that "the harm by way of prematurity should carry considerable weight". As to "[whether] the proposal would represent a sustainable form of development", she concluded, in paragraph 14.17, that it would not.
"11. The Secretary of State has carefully considered the Inspector's reasoning on housing provision at IR13.11-13.62 and, for the reasons given at IR13.63-13.65, he agrees with her conclusions that the Council's figures of a requirement for just over 10,000 dwellings for the housing market and just under 14,000 for the Council's administrative area are to be preferred over those put forward on behalf of your client, as is the Council's assessment of overall supply, at almost 15,000. Overall, therefore, the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that, whether the analysis is based on the Housing Market Area or the Council's area, it has not been shown that there is any pressing need for additional sites to come forward to sustain the local supply of housing. However, he also agrees with the Inspector's conclusion that substantial weight should attach to the proposals in proportion to the contribution they would make to the supply of affordable housing."
And on "[the] employment land supply and wider economic objectives", he said in paragraph 12 that he agreed with the inspector's conclusion in paragraph 13.87 of her report that, "as the appeal site comprises a substantial proportion of the highly accessible Melton site, it represents a logical choice in relation to the spatial strategy of the emerging local plan with regard to employment land which would be much diminished if the appeal site were to be developed for housing – thereby having a significant detrimental effect on the portfolio of employment land". He therefore also agreed with the inspector that, "although there is potential for other land to come forward, this would have to be on an ad hoc basis rather than as part of a plan-led approach, potentially causing harm to economic development objectives". In his "Overall Conclusions", he said in paragraph 18 that "[although] the provision of new homes, including affordable housing, would be an important social and economic benefit, … granting permission for either of the appeal schemes would be contrary to the development plan, so that it is necessary to consider whether there are material considerations sufficient to warrant a decision contrary to that". In paragraph 19 he concluded that "[with] regard to Appeal A, … the benefits of the scheme are significantly and demonstrably outweighed by the adverse impacts including that on the Council's overall spatial strategy for housing, their economic objectives and the portfolio of employment land, and the urbanising impact on North Ferriby", and "[in] the case of Appeal B, … these disbenefits would be compounded by the reduced quantum of housing while the funding for a bridge across the railway line would not be a proportionate or reasonable response to any harm to the supply of employment land". In paragraph 20 he said he agreed with the inspector's recommendations, and therefore dismissed both appeals.
Ouseley J.'s judgment
"46. … [The inspector] addressed the issue of whether ERYC had demonstrated that the sites in its five year housing land supply figures were deliverable within the requirements of  NPPF and footnote . Her approach reflects the requirements of  NPPF and of the PPG. She had evidence on deliverability sufficient to enable her to reach a reasonable planning judgment. … ."
There is no criticism of those conclusions in this appeal.
"49. Mr [Christopher] Young contended that the Inspector had misinterpreted what "deliverable" meant in NPPF . This was more an issue about the language she had used in two paragraphs, IR [13.53 and 13.56], rather than whether any substantive conclusions showed a misinterpretation of the concept. …
50. [Mr Young] submitted that the inspector had erred in drawing a distinction between the supply of housing and the delivery of housing on it. Delivery was at the heart of the NPPF. The Inspector had focused on "supply" and not on "deliverable supply". She needed to find that specific sites were deliverable. The argument itself veered somewhat uncertainly between the concepts of "delivery", and "deliverability".
51. In my judgment, the Inspector made no error of interpretation of the NPPF at all. The NPPF and the assessment of housing land supply are concerned with "deliverability", which is an assessment of the likelihood that housing will be delivered in the five year period on that site. The assessment of housing land supply does not require certainty that the housing sites will actually be developed within that period. The planning process cannot deal in such certainties. The problem of uncertainty is managed by assessing "deliverability" over a five year period, re-assessed as the five year period rolls forward. The Inspector was simply recognising that there is that difference, and her focus had to be on deliverability, which was not disproved by showing that there were uncertainties. All this was very much a matter of degree for her.
52. There are many reasons why the difference may exist: the assumed production rates off large sites may be too high for the market, though that does not seem to have been an issue here; the building industry's infrastructure, skilled labour, finance, and materials, may not be geared up to the assumed rate; and the market may not wish to build or buy houses at the assumed rate of delivery; mortgage funds may not be available for those who would wish to buy. As Mr [Paul] Tucker [Q.C.] pointed out, the local planning authority can only do so much, that is to maintain a five year supply of deliverable housing land. The market, comprising house builders, finance and purchasers, has to do the rest. I reject this aspect of ground 1; the Inspector made no error of law."
"53. These can be taken together: (d) relates to the way in which the Inspector approached ERYC's past delivery of housing, and (e) relates to the trajectory it placed before the Inspector, and prepared for the Local Plan examination. They are also bound up with the other contention, featuring passim in Mr Young's argument, that the decision of the Inspector was not merely overly generous to EYRC, but was irrational.
54. The essence of (d) was that the supply figures, of 15000, over 5 years or 3000 a year was far beyond what ERYC had achieved in the past, which was of the order of 650 a year, and of (e) was that it was far ahead of what EYRC was putting forward as its expected production over the five years. ERYC's April 2014 Housing Implementation Strategy for submission to the Local Plan examination, in evidence before the Inspector, showed fewer than 1000 dwellings built in 2013-14, and 1500 or fewer in each succeeding year until that figure of 1500 was just exceeded in 2017-18, making a total for the five relevant years of no more than 7000 dwellings.
55. Mr Young described ERYC as in effect saying that there was a realistic prospect that 3000 houses a year would be produced, but that it did not regard that as the likely outcome, the outcome that more probably than not would occur. No legally adequate reasons had been given as to how its five year housing supply figures could be reconciled with its past and probable future delivery.
57. NPPF , 4th bullet point, states that local planning authorities should illustrate "the expected rate of housing delivery through a housing trajectory for the plan period and set out a housing implementation strategy … describing how they will maintain delivery of a five-year supply of housing land to meet their housing target."
58. Mr Young's point was not that market factors, such as a spread of locations, and locations where people actually wanted to live, or the delivery rate of large sites had been unlawfully ignored in the assessment of the sites warranting ERYC's supply figures. Both aspects of this ground went to an argument deployed before the Inspector to the effect that the housing land supply figures put forward by ERYC were not credible, and the Inspector well understood the way the point was being deployed, as her account of St Modwen's case and Mr Young's closing submissions to her showed. His was a simple point, but not a principal important issue, on the credibility of EYRC's judgment; he made it to the Inspector, which she rejected, as she was entitled to do in her planning judgment. This point is cousin to issue (c). It is necessary to be cautious lest a point on a s288 challenge takes a very different shape and emphasis from that which it had before the inspector.
59. The process for allocating sites in the emerging plan and the sites, albeit in brief, were considered by the Inspector and judged to be deliverable. She took account of these issues in reaching that judgment, but she concluded that they did not persuade her that the supply sites were not deliverable. That was a planning judgment for her. The past shortcomings in the supply of land were addressed in the manner required by the NPPF through the 20 percent buffer, though of course that can only address a shortfall caused by failings in the supply of deliverable housing land. The future difference between what was "deliverable" and what would probably be "delivered", discussed above, lies at the heart of the difference between the housing supply figures and the housing trajectory. This difference did not reflect, on the Inspector's conclusions, a contradiction between her assessment of what was "deliverable" and what ERYC thought was "deliverable", nor did it mean that ERYC was saying one thing to one Inspector and something completely different to another. She accepted that ERYC was intending to give great weight to the fact of allocation in the plan when it came to reach its decisions on planning applications for housing on such sites. So far as "deliverability" was concerned, which it was her task to consider, that was the second principal point. Thereafter it would be market factors which would lead to delivery. If sites are deliverable, and the problem in delivery is not within the control of the planning authority, for example the cost of housing or the availability of finance, the solution to a problem of delivery is not an increase in the supply of sites which are capable of delivery. The issue raised was not ignored; it was dealt with briefly but sufficiently."
Issue (1) – Did the Secretary of State misinterpret or misapply government policy for the supply of housing in paragraph 47 of the NPPF?
"13.43. Footnote 11 of NPPF paragraph 47 states that deliverable sites should be available, in a suitable location, achievable and have a realistic prospect of being developed. … Both the Appellant and the Council draw attention to the Wainhomes judgement [the judgment of Stuart-Smith J. in Wainhomes (South West) Holdings Ltd. v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 597 (Admin)]. From this, it appears there are two key points to note with regard to the interpretation of NPPF paragraph 47: firstly, that whether or not a site is deliverable is fact sensitive; and secondly, that inclusion of a site in an emerging local plan is some evidence of deliverability, since it should normally be assumed that an LPA will make a responsible attempt to comply with national planning policy. Nonetheless, there are other relevant factors including the plan's evidence base, the stage the draft plan has reached and the nature of any objections.
13.44. Pointing to the strong emphasis in NPPF on delivery, the Appellant has taken the position that supply will largely consist of sites with planning permission, putting forward a figure of just over 4,700 as the realistic supply. However, if the exercise is to be fact-sensitive as indicated in the Wainhomes judgement, it follows that sites should not be discounted simply on the basis of a general characteristic such as their planning status. Moreover, there is a fundamental lack of credibility in a figure for a period looking five years ahead which fails to acknowledge the likelihood that the Council will grant at least some planning permissions during that period. In this respect, it should be noted that the Appellant's own supply figure has had to be revised upwards by a substantial margin … in order to reflect this very fact. The Appellant's approach to deliverability does not achieve the intended aim of providing certainty over the projected five year period.
13.45. On the question of the status of sites without planning permission, the Appellant draws attention to various appeal decisions, particularly High Peak and Ottery St Mary. … In contrast, for the two appeals currently under consideration, the Council's case is based on all the sites identified in a submission draft allocations document rather than a small number of strategic sites. The relevant local plan is in the process of being examined and provides a much clearer picture as to technical or viability issues and the nature of any objections. The circumstances are not comparable and a different approach is warranted here, due to the different characteristics of the evidence base and the availability of public responses to the emerging plan. In addition, it seems to me there is a fundamental flaw in an approach to the assessment of housing land supply which fails to entertain the possibility that a Local Planning Authority with an identified need of at least 1400 dwellings a year and an emerging local plan which provides for 23,800 dwellings may grant at least some planning permissions for residential development over a five year period.
13.46. On its own, the absence of a planning permission is not sufficient reason for a site to be categorised as undeliverable. On that basis, I consider that very little weight can be attached to the Appellant's figures for supply from the existing and emerging local plans. [7.107; 9.147-8]
13.47. The second point raised from the Wainhomes case is that, in a plan-led system, regard needs to be had to the evidence base of the emerging plan, albeit this depends on context. In this instance, the emerging ERYC local plan makes detailed provision for development over the plan period. Whilst the Appellant protests that the detailed evidence base for those allocations was not put to the inquiry, it seems to me that the proper arena to test such detail is indeed the Local Plan examination. For the purposes of this inquiry, it is sufficient to establish the extent to which reliance may be placed on the emerging local plan.
13.48. The emerging local plan makes provision for 23,800 additional dwellings over the plan period. The Council contends that some 11,000 should be considered deliverable over the next five years. The Council's evidence to this inquiry on this point comprises the PSAD dated January 2014, the SHLAA, which sets out the position at November 2013 and the evidence of Mr Hunt [the council's Planning Policy Manager], particularly appendices L and M (as updated by ERYC 14 and ERYC 25).
13.49. Sites in the PSAD have been subjected to a four-stage assessment which includes deliverability. An example of this can be seen in the discussion of potential sites at Melton at Chapter 3 of Mr Hunt's PoE. However, although this methodology may support inclusion of a site within the emerging local plan, it does not demonstrate the likelihood of its delivery in the next five years, as indicated by the Council's own acceptance that some sites should be discounted.
13.50. Turning to the SHLAA, two key assumptions underpin its reliance on emerging local plan allocations in the five year housing land supply figures: that, since few sites require infrastructure to be provided prior to commencement of development, most of the allocations in the emerging local plan can be regarded as being free from significant constraints; and that the Council is committed to affording weight to the emerging local plan when determining planning applications."
"13.53. Clearly, given the number of sites involved, it may well turn out that not all allocations currently identified as deliverable will in fact be delivered. However I consider that, overall, the Appellant has not shown that this part of the evidence base is lacking in robustness. As a result, the Council's figure of 11,156 dwellings on sites identified in the emerging local plan should carry substantial weight. [7.104-107; 9.147-151]" (my emphasis).
In paragraph 7.107, one of the paragraphs in her summary of the council's case on housing land supply, she had said that "the big issue between the parties is the extent to which the draft allocations are included within the figures".
"13.56. Whilst the Council's supply figure has fluctuated over the period of the inquiry, a fair reading of Mr Hunt's first proof shows that the discussion of a 12 year supply took place in the context of the weight which could be attached to sites in the emerging local plan (StM16). In a situation where a Local Plan is under preparation, it is not surprising that data will be subject to revision. As such, the fluctuations of themselves should not be seen as indicative of a lack of reliability. It is also suggested that the 15,000 figure should be seen as absurd in comparison with the housing trajectory. However, the assessment of supply is distinct from that for delivery. [7.101-103; 9.142-144]" (my emphasis).
Did the Secretary of State misdirect himself on the council's housing trajectory?
"9.144. Another major problem with the credibility of the Council's own housing supply figures is the trajectory in the Housing Implementation Strategy, which shows delivery in 2013-2014 at less than 1,000 units (and closer to 800), followed by less than 1,400 for the following two years. The figure is 1,500 for 2016-17 and marginally higher than that in 2017-2018. That is a supply of about 6,500 to 7,000 in the next 5 years on the basis of its own evidence to the Local Plan examination."
This was a true reflection of the way in which the point had been put to her, in support of the argument that the council's position on housing land supply lacked credibility and should not be accepted, and with emphasis on the supply figure of a maximum of 7,000. In fact, it was almost an exact quotation of the submission made by Mr Young in paragraph 295 of his closing speech.
Did the Secretary of State err in his conclusions on the council's record of housing delivery?
Lord Justice McCombe
Lord Justice Jackson