What does a Local Planning Authority's lack of a five year land supply mean for a made neighbourhood plan in that area?
National policy requires a Local Planning Authority (LPA) to maintain a five year land supply. What this means in practice is there should be sufficient land made available for new housing to deliver the identified housing need for the next five years. Given the length and complexity of producing a Local Plan, not all LPAs can demonstrate that they have a five year land supply. But what happens if there is a neighbourhood plan in place but the Local Plan cannot demonstrate a five year supply of housing?
The National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 49) is very clear that decision makers should not consider the housing policies within the development plan (which the neighbourhood plan forms part of) to be up to date if a five year land supply has not been identified. In these situations there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. What this means in practice is that planning permission should be granted unless it can be demonstrated that the granting of planning permission would cause sufficient harm so as to outweigh the benefits of granting permission, for example if it were in the Green Belt and the proposal would not maintain the openness of the Green Belt. The assessment of what constitutes sufficient harm should be made against the provisions of the NPPF. This not only includes policy on specific types of development contained within the NPPF but also paragraph 183-185 which states where a development conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force planning permission should be refused.
This provision demonstrates the importance that is attached to made neighbourhood plans, even when the LPA cannot demonstrate a five year land supply. Essentially it means although an LPA will have to look at granting permission for housing where there is an absence of a five year land supply and the development is deemed sustainable, the neighbourhood plan policies will be able to influence what is considered acceptable in this regard.