Earlier today the Court of Appeal issued a judgment clarifying the proper interpretation of Paragraph 49 of the NPPF. 

Paragraph 49 states that:

"Housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption of sustainable development. Relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites".

The weight to be attached to planning policies by those deciding if permission should be granted  is often lessened if the policies are out of date.

As a result, the interpretation of  paragraph 49  has generated a lot of argument in the courts. In particular, over what constitutes a 'relevant policy for the supply of housing'.

The Court of Appeal has now confirmed that the policies referred to in paragraph 49 are any "relevant policies affecting the supply of housing".  

It is expressly stated by the Court that this can include local plan policies on development in the green belt, areas of outstanding natural beauty or national parks, as well as those governing where homes should be build and how many are needed. 

The Court has also provided an extremely useful step by step guide to how the application of paragraph 49 should be approached by decision-makers.

For such a significant judgment it is remarkably concise (under 30 pages) and definitely worth taking the time to read in full.

Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes Limited and SSCL  and Richborough Estates Partnership LLP v Cheshire East Borough Council

The neutral citation number is:  [2016] EWCA  Civ 168