A blog about planning, planning law and planning policy


The information on this blog is not intended to be advice, legal or otherwise. You should not rely on it and I do not accept liability in connection with it. If you do have a planning law question on which you would like advice, seek legal advice from a suitably qualified solicitor. Specific advice should be sought for specific problems.

The text of the 1923 circular which created the presumption in favour of development

I have been pointing out for some time that the presumption is not new, and dates from 1923. This point was made by Michael Harrison QC (who became a distinguished High Court judge) in a 1992 article in the Journal of Planning and Environmental Law, and by Professor Michael Purdue in his analysis (also published in the JPL) of the case of Pehrsson v. Secretary of State. Research at the National Archive at Kew has turned up the circular. In the interests of clarity and accessibility I publish it below. The presumption is at the beginning of the third paragraph, indeed it has a paragraph to itself.

2 comments to The text of the 1923 circular which created the presumption in favour of development

  • John Mitchell


    Congratulations on publicising this 1923 Circular, showing that the principle of a presumption in favour of development goes back to the very beginnings of the ‘Planning System’, in the early part of the 20th century. This is an important and fundamental principle that should be noted by all those who play a part in the current planning process.

    On a slightly different issue, it is noted that this Circular was found at the National Archive at Kew. A few years ago I was trying, without success, to find a copy of the original Green Belt Circular, promoted by Duncan Sandys in the early 1950s. The point I was trying to source was the longstanding, often quoted mantra, relating to residential infill in the Green Belt, as being only acceptable in a small gap in an otherwise substantially built up frontage.

    Starting in DC in the late 1960s, I can remember from the onset, in various planning appeals in the south Bucks Green Belt, using this policy to back up planning refusals. Does anyone have access to this original Circular, or does it have to be obtained from Kew?

    I’m not wishing to hijack this blog, but the principle of sourcing original material is the same.


  • David

    We met at a Coalpro meeting you attended ( I think in Summer 2010 ) in south Wales.

    I read your letter in Planning 23/9/11 with interest and followed it up with accessing the 1923 circular on your website which I found very interesting; I think it would help to bring the text of the circular more into the public domain as a reminder to people such as CPRE and the National Trust what planning is all about ( as distinct from what they would like it to be ). Perhaps suggest to Planning that they print the full text of it in their issue ?


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