The Court of Appeal has just ruled that the Small Sites Exemption, introduced by Ministers in November 2014, is lawful. In so doing, they have overturned a decision by the High Court in July 2015 (see West Berkshire District Council ( EWHC Admin 2222), which caused much dismay amongst small developers at the time.
This is truly excellent news for small 'pocket' developers who have historically tended to struggle with making fully policy compliant contributions on smaller schemes. These schemes nearly always involve brownfield land in urban areas and tend to carry disproportionately high remediation costs.
It will be interesting to see how quickly the guidance is re-introduced following the Judgment. With a bit of luck, it will be back in the National Planning Guidance before the end of the week.
A quick thank you to David Elvin QC at Landmark Chambers for summarising the Judgment so quickly and agreeing to let me link to it.
For those of you who don't know David, you can find his chambers profile here: http://www.landmarkchambers.co.uk/david_elvin
"36. We would certainly accept that the statutory planning context to some extent constrains the Secretary of State. It prohibits him from making policy which, as we have put it in dealing with the principal issue in the case, would countermand or frustrate the effective operation of s.38(6) or s.70(2). It would also prevent him from introducing into planning policy matters which were not proper planning considerations at all. Subject to that, his policy choices are for him. ... The planning legislation establishes a framework for the making of planning decisions; it does not lay down merits criteria for planning policy, or establish what the policy-maker should or should not regard as relevant to the exercise of policy-making."