Material Planning Considerations

Material Planning Considerations 

The law requires that planning applications be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.  The development plan currently comprises the Exeter Local Plan (see later), the Devon Structure Plan and the Regional Spatial Strategy (RPG10, 2001)’

What is and is not a material consideration is ultimately a matter for the courts. lf a council takes into account a matter that is not a material consideration the decision could be challenged as unlawful and set aside.

The following material considerations are relevant in most planning applications:
– National planning policy and advice
– Draft policy
– The environmental, social and economic impacts of the proposal
– Access and provision of infrastructure for the site
– The design of the proposal
– The planning history of the site
– The views of organisations and individuals, in relation to relevant planning matters.

The following issues are not material considerations:
– Loss of views
– Competition between businesses
– Moral considerations (for example religious objections to licensed premises)
– Political or ideological opinions
– The cost of the development
– Issues covered by other legislation (for example Building Regulations)
– Whether or not the applicant owns the site

So it is clear, that planning permission CANNOT be refused simply because the local residents don’t want it, or that local residents do not like the look of it – planning permission can only be refused on legitimate planning grounds.

Love this phrase:
“We have real concerns, borne out of an intimate knowledge of area (and it is frustrating that an alternative, practical and cost-effective solution has been proposed, but no-one is able or willing to enforce this)”

And this one as well:
“We would be grateful if the Council would take our objections into consideration when deciding this appication”

It is essential to realise that consideration of a planning application is NOT a popularity contest – “we have X00 objections so you must turn it down.”

And what happens if the Planning Committee refuses an application?

First the Committee list the reasons with reference to the material considerations and policies.

If the developer feels aggrieved they can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, as happened over the Home Farm development in Pinhoe.

13/4802/01 OUTLINE Planning Permission forLand at Home Farm, Church Hill, Pinhoe, Exeter, EX4
The developer proposed 120 dwellings with associated infrastructure and open space (all matters reserved for future consideration apart from access)

Report presented to Planning Committee meeting of 13 January 2014

As well as the Officer’s report, the committee heard from local ward councillor Moira Macdonald who spoke for nearly 40 minutes – and highlighted the flood risk, concerns over capacity of foul sewage system and fears over the net loss of biodiversity (also expressed by Devon Wildlife Trust).

The Officer’s recommendation was for REFUSAL and the minutes of the meeting record:

(1)     outline planning permission for 120 dwellings with associated infrastructure and open space (all matters reserved for future consideration apart from access) be REFUSED for the following reasons:-

1)      The proposal is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework 2012, Policies CP1, CP4 and CP16 of the Exeter Local Development Framework Core Strategy 2012, Saved Policies H1, H2 and LS1 of the Exeter Local Plan First Review 1995-2011, and policies DD9, DD21 and DD30 of the emergingExeter Draft Development Delivery Development Plan Document 2013, because:

a) the proposal would harm the landscape setting of the city through development of protected land of particular importance to the setting of the city and of intrinsic landscape value in itself;

b) adequate information has not been submitted to demonstrate that the proposal is acceptable in terms of access and impact on the highway network; and,

c) it would set an undesirable precedent for other nearby residential development proposals that individually, or collectively, would harm the character of the area;

2)      In the absence of a planning obligation in terms that are satisfactory to the Local Planning Authority, and which makes provision for a contribution towards affordable housing, the proposal is contrary to Exeter Local Development Framework Core Strategy 2012 Policy CP7, Exeter Local Plan First Review 1995-2011 Saved Policy H6 and Exeter City Council Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document 2013; and

(2)     the Assistant Director City Development be granted delegated authority to add any further reasons for refusal after research into the issues raised by the Councillor attending under Standing Order No 44.

DOWNLOAD:  Decision Notice
The developer [Waddeton Park Ltd & The R B Nelder Trust] lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate.
Following an Inquiry held on 9,10 & 11 September 2014 and a site visit made on 11 September 2014, Lesley Coffey BA(Hons) BTP MRTPI (the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Decision) made a decision on 29 October 2014
The Planning Inspector’s decision letter runs to 100 clauses and concludes:

99. I have found above that the proposal would not harm the landscaped setting of Exeter and subject to the provisions of the Unilateral Undertaking would be acceptable in terms of its effect on highway safety and traffic. The proposal would deliver much needed housing within Exeter and would represent sustainable development.

100. For the reasons given above I conclude that the appeal should be allowed.

DOWNLOAD:  Inspectors decision (0.2 MB)
In a separate judgment, the Planning Inspector awarded costs against Exeter City Council
As a result of this judgement, Exeter City Council sought a Judicial Review of the Planning Inspector’s decision

Pinhoe 100 homes plan due to be reviewed [Express &Echo, 09 December 2014]

Following a hearing on 8 June, a High Court judge dismissed ECC’s application to overturn a Planning Inspector’s decision to allow an outline planning application for 120 homes at Home Farm on Church Hill, Pinhoe.
The full judgement of Mr Justice Hickinbottom in Exeter City Council v (1) Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, (2) Waddeton Park Limited, and (3) The R B Nelder Trust was published on Bailii [the database of England and Wales High Court (Administrative Court) Decisions].
Hickinbottom J found that the Planning Inspector “was correct not to accede to the Council’s submission that all student accommodation supplied should or could be set off against the housing requirement.”
This summary points out that Hickinbottom J. accepted the Secretary of State’s and the developers’ submissions that even if the challenged aspects of the decision letter were wrong in law and the Inspector had found that the Council did have a five-year housing land supply, the outcome would inevitably have been the same given that the Inspector did not identify any harm that the development would cause other than the breach of a local plan landscape policy which she found to be out of date for reasons unassociated with the housing land supply situation, and therefore that the Court should in any event exercise its discretion not to quash in any event. 

LGIU | Radical ideas for a better planning system

LGIU Policy Briefing
30 June 2015

Radical ideas for a better planning system


The planning system is not fit-for-purpose. A group of academics at UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning (BSP) have developed a report outlining its shortcomings and suggesting some radical changes that are necessary. Yvonne Rydin, from the BSP explains.

Radical Ideas for a Better Planning System criticises the lack of a national Spatial Plan and the overemphasis in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on promoting economic growth, rather than considering well-being in the round. It highlights the absence of regional planning and the over-centralisation within the system. The planning tool-box is seen as fundamentally lacking in the means for effectively implementing strategies, and this is analysed as rebounding negatively on the involvement of people in local planning activity.

In response, five ‘radical ideas’ are put forward:

  • embedding a central concern with well-being within the NPPF;
  • devolving planning powers;
  • recognising the benefits of planning regulation;
  • land reform, encompassing land value capture and long-term public land-ownership of major development sites; and
  • tackling the democratic deficit in planning.

In this short piece, devolution of planning and the democratic deficit will be briefly discussed.

Devolution to city-regions is currently a main plank of the Conservative policy agenda for local government. As with the earlier neighbourhood planning reforms, there is much to be welcomed here. But the BSP report points to how such devolution should framed by the subsidiarity principle, that sees planning issues systematically dealt with at the lowest appropriate scale.

Current proposals fail to put in place a form of regional planning across the country to deal with issues such as major infrastructure and inter-regional inequality that demand treatment at this scale. They also fail to set city-region planning within a national spatial plan and they fail to ensure that planning from neighbourhood, through local and city to regional scales is adequately resourced. Without this, devolution will result in an ad hoc partial restructuring of English local government creating more confusion and favouring the economically more buoyant cities.

Devolution also creates challenges for engaging local communities. The experience of neighbourhood planning shows that it is possible to involve people in active planning for their local area where they can see the direct relevance of the plans being produced. But it also shows that such activity requires resourcing particularly to avoid inequalities in community representation.

Creating such engagement at wider scales – the city or the region – has often proved problematic. People need to be convinced that their contribution will count. Consideration needs to be given to novel means of engagement whether web-based or exercises in deliberation, always aware of the resource implications which can be considerable with deliberative approaches.

Perhaps elected representatives can be more effectively involved, melding representative and direct democracy. This might be a way to address the difficulties of community engagement at the regional scale, where business, service and utility stakeholders can readily dominate residential community interests.

Full details of all the BSP’s ‘radical ideas’ are available at:

Yvonne Rydin_PICTURE   

Prof. Yvonne Rydin is Chair of Planning Environment and Public Policy at The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL