The Administrative Court has upheld the decision of the Secretary of State to grant planning permission on two appeals for 1,000 new dwellings in Gloucestershire. Appeal A comprised a mixed use development including 450 dwellings. Appeal B was another mixed use development including 550 dwellings. The council argued that the Localism Act 2011 had placed the local community, acting by its planning authority, in the ‘driving seat’ when making decisions about the provision of housing and that the Secretary of State’s decision was contrary to this policy change. The court held that although the Localism Act 2011 had made significant changes to the planning system, it had not brought about a fundamental change in the proper approach to planning applications so as to eliminate the role of the Secretary of State in determining such applications.

The court agreed with the Secretary of State that the most significant material consideration in the case was the housing land supply, where the requirement for a five year supply could not be demonstrated. The court expressly acknowledged the finding in the Inspector’s report to the Secretary of State that even if both appeals were allowed and the developments carried out, there would still be a shortfall in the identified housing need for the area.

The court found no legal basis for a finding that the Secretary of State’s decision was unlawful and further rejected the Council’s claim that the grant of permission would prejudice the Council’s emerging core strategy – indeed the original Inspector’s report had criticised the Council’s own delay in bringing the strategy forward