There is, understandably, a lot of interest today in the just published secretary of state decision in the Cala Homes appeal at Barton Farm, Winchester. Although the Inspector recommended approval, the secretary of state rejected the appeal, even though there was a clear shortfall in housing land supply. Given the recent trend in secretary of state decisions, the March ministerial statement on the importance of economic growth, and the draft NPPF, many would have expected the decision to be to follow the Inspector's recommendation.
However, Winchester was able to show real progress in following the localism agenda by engaging with local communities in planning. Allowing the appeal would have undermined that work and many would have seen it as working against what the Government is seeking to achieve through localism. In any event, given the delivery programme, the site would have produced relatively few new homes in the short term.
So this looks like a very encouraging decision for local authorities anxious about the potential consequences of NPPF - and also for local communities. So the message to take from it may well be "get moving on localism, demonstrate a commitment to a realistic bottom up approach meeting needs and we will back you".
Politics? or good planning?