NPPF 2012 para 116 (now 172 in 2018 NPPF): Major development in National Parks, Broads, AONBs

Paragraph 172 of the NPPF

“172. Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic
beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues. The
conservation and enhancement of wildlife and cultural heritage are also important
considerations in these areas, and should be given great weight in National Parks

53 Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, areas of poorer
quality land should be preferred to those of a higher quality.
and the Broads54. The scale and extent of development within these designated
areas should be limited. Planning permission should be refused for major
development55 other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be
demonstrated that the development is in the public interest. Consideration of such
applications should include an assessment of:
a) the need for the development, including in terms of any national considerations,
and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy;
b) the cost of, and scope for, developing outside the designated area, or meeting
the need for it in some other way; and
c) any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational
opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated.”

R. (on the application of JH and FW Green Ltd) v South Down National Park Authority [2018] EWHC 604 (Admin)

  • “27. As set out at [15] above, Mr Maurici advised that a “major development” in the context of paragraph 116 is

“any development which, by reason of its scale character or nature, has the potential to have a serious adverse impact on the natural beauty, recreational opportunities, wildlife or cultural heritage provided by a National Park. Obviously, the assessment of whether the proposal is major is therefore a matter of judgment based on all the circumstances, including the local context.”

Subject to a limited dispute about the word “potential”, the parties are agreed that this is reasonable working guidance for a reporting officer or committee that has to decide whether or not paragraph 116 applies, it being also agreed that the major significance of paragraph 116 is that it gives rise to a presumption of refusal in the absence of exceptional circumstances.”

The Court also clarified that the definition of major development is not the same as in the 2015 Development Management Order nor is the fact that the proposal was a ‘major development’ under the Order relevant to the para 116 consideration.

Wealden DC v SSCLG [2017] EWCA Civ 39

Girling v East Suffolk Council [2020] EWHC 2579 (Admin) –

(part of summary of submissions):

    1. Mr. Wolfe QC relied upon the dictum of Lord Diplock in Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment [1977] AC 1014 at 1065B: –

“… the question for the court is, did the Secretary of State ask himself the right question and take reasonable steps to acquaint himself with the relevant information to enable him to answer it correctly.”

However, he also accepted that the apparent width of that statement has been qualified by the principle established in, for example, R (Khatun) v Newham London Borough Council [2005] QB 37 at [35] and Flintshire County Council v Jayes [2018] EWCA Civ 1089 at [14]. Accordingly, it was for the Council to judge how far to go into the question of need and to obtain information on that aspect. That judgment is only open to challenge on the grounds of irrationality. In the light of the Samuel Smith case, the question for the Court is whether the amount of time which would be saved in the construction of SZC by carrying out the advance works was an “obviously material” consideration, such that it was irrational not to take it into account.”

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