The Core Strategy included a 'maximum' housing delivery
figure (based on environmental constraints) and a lower figure (at
which active management of under-delivery would be needed). At the
lower figure, the authority could show a 5 year supply. Neither the
appellant nor the authority appear to have submitted OAN evidence,
despite the ability to do so (West Berkshire District Council v Secretary of
State for Communities and Local Government & Anor 
EWHC 267 (Admin)).
The Inspector found that the scheme merited approval regardless
of the OAN position. He also explained that the authority was not
likely to meet full OAN judged against the maximum housing figure
and so applied the NPPF presumption. The authority challenged the
decision under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act
1990, on the basis that his reasons were inadequate (including why
the upper figure was the correct measure of OAN). The High Court
dismissed the challenge, on the basis that the upper/lower level
figures provided a 'context for assessing housing need' and
that nothing in the NPPF should prevent decision makers from being
able to use a range of figures to assess whether there would still
"be advantage in the grant of permission".
The judgment purposively and pragmatically allows for
range-based approach to assessing OAN where there is no real
demographic evidence available on appeal, and emphasises the
undesirability of appeal Inspectors being diverted into a
statistical "sojourn in a garden of delights" on
OAN. Care is needed, though:
It does not address the situation where reliance on OAN is
required to 'switch off' restrictive housing policies and
engage the NPPF presumption.
It also recognises that "a more thorough analysis
would have been required" in those circumstances,
consistent with the finding in West Berkshire that the Inspector had
to "identify an annual housing requirement in the
district. If he failed to do so he would not have been able to
identify whether the council was able to demonstrate whether it had
a five year supply of housing land."
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