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Court of Appeal clarifies the meaning of the phrase “new isolated homes in the countryside”

29 March 2018

Paragraph 55 NPPF provides that decision-takers should “avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances”.

In a judgment handed down on 28th March 2018, Lindblom LJ (giving the judgment of the Court) has held that means:

“… a dwelling that is physically separate or remote from a settlement. Whether a proposed new dwelling is, or is not, ‘isolated’ in this sense will be a matter of fact and planning judgment for the decision-maker in the particular circumstances of the case in hand” at [31].

“Whether, in a particular case, a group of dwellings constitutes a settlement, or a ‘village’, for the purposes of the policy will again be a matter of fact and planning judgment for the decision-maker” at [32].

Whilst upholding the judgment of the High Court (see [27]), the Court of Appeal’s definition provides considerably more flexibility to decision takers than that of Lang J, who found that “isolated new homes” were only those which were “far away from other places, buildings or people; remote". That approach could have led to new homes being considered consistent with paragraph 55 NPPF simply because they happened to be next to another home.

Lindblom LJ rejected the Secretary of State’s submission that the Planning Practice Guidance was not an aid to understanding the policy to which it corresponds in the NPPF in this instance but left open the possibility that there may be “occasions when [excluding the PPG from consideration] is necessary” at [36].

Lindblom LJ also left open the possibility that paragraph 55 NPPF was a policy within footnote 9 NPPF, which may “indicate that development should be restricted” at [46]. Although it does not appear within the new draft NPPF as such a policy.

Ellisons' Lee Pearce, Partner and Guy Longhurst, Senior Partner advised and represented the Second Respondent Greyread Ltd.

The full judgment in Braintree DC v SSCLG [2018] EWCA Civ. 610 can be found here.