The Urbanissta Legal Beagle is on the case (July’17)

 

Welcome to the Urbanissta Legal Beagle’s case law reviews – we’re tracking the decisions on proposed developments to see what precedents have been set in recent judgments and decisions that might be useful to you, day to day.

We provide a summary of recent decisions for your reference below and via the links, or you can download the full decision letters should you wish. Remember to keep an eye out for further iterations, in the weeks to come!


This month, our Guest barrister, Giles Atkinson from 6 Pump Court Chambers has also provided some very interesting insights.

 

 

1. Is there a general presumption in favour of Sustainable Development?

Barwood Strategic Land II LLP v East Staffordshire BC and Secretary of State for CLG [2017] EWCA Civ 893.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Suffolk Coastal[1] earlier this year, we now have an important decision from the Court of Appeal on the scope of the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ in the NPPF.  It is particularly important because different Judges in the High Court have arrived at different conclusions on the topic, notably Coulson J in the Wychavon case[2] and Jay J in Cheshire East[3].

In the present case, the appeal was against a decision of the High Court to quash an Inspector’s decision allowing permission for ‘up to’ 150 houses in Burton upon Trent.  The Inspector had found that the proposal was in conflict with the development plan but that this conflict was outweighed by other material considerations.

It was agreed that the central issue for determination by the CA was whether the Inspector misdirected himself in performing the task set for him under section 38(6)[4] by mistaking the true meaning and scope of government policy for the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ in the NPPF.

The Court of Appeal’s ruling was given by Lindblom LJ, with Underhill LJ and Gross LJ in agreement.  Lindblom LJ begins by reminding us that the NPPF is not a statute nor does it have the same status as the development plan.  It is one of the other material considerations which section 70(2) of the TCPA 1990 requires the decision maker to have regard to alongside the provisions of the development plan, when dealing with an application for planning permission.  Indeed, the NPPF itself acknowledges its own place in the plan-led system of development control.  The weight to be given to the NPPF is for the decision maker, of course, although the CA observes that it is likely to command significant weight on account of being Government policy.

The Court then sets out what the NPPF has to say about the presumption in favour of sustainable development, referring to the paragraphs within it that are no doubt familiar to readers of this column.  Paragraph 14 is set out in full.

The NPPF’s imperative for an up-to-date local plan is also spelled out, particularly in the context of policies for housing, notably paragraph 49[5].  Lindblom LJ then distils 5 basic points from the SC decision in Suffolk Coastal to show how the presumption in favour of sustainable development at NPPF 14 operates when a LPA cannot demonstrate a 5 year supply.  Importantly, he finds that they provide the context for cases such as the present one when the LPA does have an up-to-date local plan and can demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing.

The Court then tackles the differing approaches that have been taken by the High Court in Wychavon and Cheshire East.  The essential difference is that, in the former, Coulson J found that the presumption in favour of sustainable development exists across the NPPF not just at paragraph 14, whereas in the latter Jay J found that the determination of whether a development was sustainable or not can be answered by following the path set by paragraph 14 alone – an algorithm he called it – not by reference to other parts of the Framework.  Jay J’s view had subsequently been preferred by Holgate J in Barker Mill Estates[6].

The CA in the present case agreed with the analysis made by Holgate J in Barker Mill Estates and takes three points from it:

  • The “presumption in favour of sustainable development” in the NPPF, unlike the presumption in favour of the development plan in section 38(6) of the 2004 Act, is not a statutory presumption. It is only a presumption of planning policy, which requires of a planning decision-maker an exercise of planning judgment within the balancing exercise mandated under section 38(6) and undertaken in accordance with the principles in the relevant case law.

 

  • Paragraph 14 of the NPPF describes what the “presumption in favour of sustainable development” means, explaining in clear and complete terms the circumstances in which, and the way in which, it is intended to operate. The presumption, as described in paragraph 14, is the so-called “golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking”. There is no other “presumption in favour of sustainable development” in the NPPF, either explicit or implicit, and no other “golden thread”.

 

  • When the section 38(6) duty is lawfully performed, a development which does not earn the “presumption in favour of sustainable development” – and does not, therefore, have the benefit of the “tilted balance”[7] in its favour – may still merit the grant of planning permission. On the other hand, a development which does have the benefit of the “tilted balance” may still be found unacceptable, and planning permission for it refused. This is the territory of planning judgment, where the court will not go except to apply the relevant principles of public law. The “presumption in favour of sustainable development” is not irrebuttable. Thus, in a case where a proposal for the development of housing is in conflict with a local plan whose policies for the supply of housing are out of date, the decision-maker is left to judge, in the particular circumstances of the case in hand, how much weight should be given to that conflict. The absence of a five-year supply of housing land will not necessarily be conclusive in favour of the grant of planning permission. This is not a matter of law. It is a matter of planning judgment.

Lindblom LJ held that the Inspector’s decision in the present case had to be quashed.  The mistake that the Inspector had made was that having found the proposals to be inconsistent with the development plan he had then ‘resurrected’ the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

The correct analysis is that if a proposal is inconsistent with the development plan then it cannot be said to benefit from the presumption in favour of approval – the presumption has at that stage been rebutted and, as para 12 NPPF makes clear, if a proposal is inconsistent with the development plan it should be refused.  That does not mean there is no discretion outside of para 14, or that permission may not nonetheless be granted, but it does mean the discretion does not include a presumption in favour of approval and, moreover, the starting point is not neutral but is adverse to the grant of permission.

The Inspector had been influenced by the faulty reasoning of the decision in Wychavon by taking account of a wider, general presumption in favour of sustainable development that does not exist in the NPPF outside the confines of paragraph 14.

The correct approach when a proposal is found to be contrary to the DP is to discount the presumption in favour of sustainable development at para 14 NPPF from any further part to play in the decision.  This presumption, once discounted, cannot be ‘acquired’ or resurrected from any other parts of the NPPF.  By this analysis the CA has made a distinction between the concept of sustainable development which is indeed promoted throughout NPPF and the operation of the presumption in favour of sustainable development (the ‘golden thread’) which is governed by paragraph 14 alone.

The final remarks of Lindblom LJ are important, emphasising again the oft-made Judicial point about the importance of planning judgment:

  1. I would, however, stress the need for the court to adopt, if it can, a simple approach in cases such as this. Excessive legalism has no place in the planning system, or in proceedings before the Planning Court, or in subsequent appeals to this court. The court should always resist over-complication of concepts that are basically simple. Planning decision-making is far from being a mechanical, or quasi-mathematical activity. It is essentially a flexible process, not rigid or formulaic. It involves, largely, an exercise of planning judgment, in which the decision-maker must understand relevant national and local policy correctly and apply it lawfully to the particular facts and circumstances of the case in hand, in accordance with the requirements of the statutory scheme. The duties imposed by section 70(2) of the 1990 Act and section 38(6) of the 2004 Act leave with the decision-maker a wide discretion. The making of a planning decision is, therefore, quite different from the adjudication by a court on an issue of law (see paragraphs 8 to 14, 22 and 35 above). I would endorse, and emphasize, the observations to the same effect made by Holgate J. in paragraphs 140 to 143 of his judgment in Trustees of the Barker Mill Estates.

 

Power to the planners!

Download Decision here.

[1] Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes Ltd and Richborough Estates Partnership LLP v Cheshire East BC [2017] UKSC 37

[2] Wychavon DC v SoS for CLG and Crown House Developments Ltd [2016] EWHC] 592 (Admin)

[3] Cheshire East BC v SoS for CLG [2016] EWHC 571 (Admin)

[4] Of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004: If regard is to be had to the development plan for the purposes of any determination to be made under the planning Acts the determination must be made in accordance with the plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

[5] Housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour 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.

[6] Trustees of Barker Mill Estates v Test Valley BC and SoS for CLG [2016] EWHC 3028 (Admin)

[7] This is the now widely accepted term for the second bullet of the ‘decision taking’ limb of paragraph 14 NPPF.

2. Under supply of housing results in permission for up to 400 dwellings.

Appeal Ref: APP/V0728/W/16/315833
Appeal Decision Date: 13th June 2017
Appellant: Theakston Estates (Investments) Ltd
Respondent: Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a failure to give notice within the prescribed period of a decision on an application for outline planning permission

Background

An appeal was made by Theakston Estates (Investments) Ltd against the non-determination of a planning application for residential development (Use Class C3) together with access, infrastructure, open space and landscaping with all matters reserved except for access at land west of Flatts Lane, Normanby, Middlesbrough TS6 0SR.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the three main issues.

  • whether the council can demonstrate a five-year land supply
  • the effect on future occupants in respect of accessibility
  • Whether the material considerations outweigh the conflict with the Development Plan

Five-year Land Supply

The Council put forward an OAN calculation of 206 dpa for the 5 year period starting on April 2016. The Appellant on the other hand calculated a figure of at least 358 dpa. The Inspector favoured the appellants AON calculations and considered the lower end of the figure as such, 335dpa to be a robust figure which is in line with the conclusions in respect of Longbank Farm.

With respect of the supply of deliverable housing sites, the Council contended that there is a supply of 1,839 dwellings over the 5 year period. The Appellant disputed the deliverability of 2 sites and contended that there was no clear evidence that Spencerbeck Farm and The Dunes would be implemented within 5 years  The Inspector however concurred with the Council that the sites were deliverable within the timeframe.

The Inspector noted that there has been an undersupply in the provision of housing in 3 out of the past 5 years. The Inspector looked to the Cotswold judgement and considered the housing over a range of time periods. He found that there was an undersupply supply in 3 out of 10 years and 4 out of 14, with a significant undersupply as a whole since 2004/5. As such, a 20% buffer was applied. Consequently, this resulted in the decision that the Council could not demonstrate a 5-year supply of deliverable housing sites with only a supply of about 4.27 years.

Impact on future occupants

“The appeal site is situated to the south of Normanby, separated from the existing built up area by the A174 dual carriageway.  A bridleway passes through the site from Flatts Lane to the Woodland Country Park and there are informal paths to the west of the site leading to a pedestrian underpass beneath the A174, which connects with informal paths to the north”

It was acknowledged that the appeal site was not close to services, shops and facilities for journeys on foot, many services and facilities and employment locations were within the suggested maximum acceptable walking distances. The Appellant proposed various improvements to the west side of Flatts Lane, the bridleway and the underpass to provide pedestrian links from the appeal site to Ormesby.  A footway/cycleway was proposed from the underpass along the western edge of the appeal site to the country park. The Inspector considered the routes to Although the target mode of walking was 8.1%, the Inspector did not consider this to be unacceptable given that it is reflective of the existing urban area to the north. The proposal was said to accord with Core Strategy Policy CS1 and Core Strategy Policy CS19 as access to shops and community facilities and services by means other than the private car was acceptable. The scheme was therefore considered to be in a sustainable location.

Material Considerations

The Inspector noted that the scheme conflicted with key policy DPD Policy DP1 concerning the location of development as such it did not accord with the development plan as a whole. It was found that “the purpose of the development limits is to contain future development and to make a clear distinction between the urban area and the countryside.  The appeal proposal conflicts with DPD Policy DP1 through the extension of the urban area beyond the defined limits, with the appeal scheme not meeting one of the exceptions as set out in the policy”. It was acknowledged that the appeal scheme would give rise to some harm through development encroaching into agricultural land – as the scheme did not show that it would present unacceptable pressure upon the Eston Hills, nor have any adverse effect on the setting of the North York Moors National Park such as change was not considered as unacceptable.

Conclusion

The Inspector concluded that Policy DP1 did not serve to provide a 5-year supply of deliverable housing sites. Strict application of this policy would restrict development as such Paragraph 14 of the NPPF was invoked. When looked at in conjunction with the NPPF, Paragraph 14 of the NNPF indicates that where relevant policies are out of date permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken. It was concluded that on balance, the adverse impacts identified did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal.

It was also noted that the Council could only demonstrate a 4.27 years land supply, as such there was presumption in favour of sustainable development. Significant weight was attached to the provision of 400 units with 15% of which would be affordable. Modest weight was attached to the wider benefits to the community such as the proposed bus service, and ongoing management and maintenance and ecological mitigation. The social, economic and environmental benefits of the appeal scheme outweighed the adverse impacts identified, consequently, the development would represent sustainable development.

On the basis of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download Decision here.

3. Development of 146 dwellings allowed in the countryside as the economic benefits were seen to outweigh the harm imposed.

Appeal Ref: APP/R0660/W/15/3135683

Appeal Decision Date: 14th June 2017
Appellant: Richborough Estates
Respondent: Cheshire East Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission

Background

An appeal was made by Richborough Estates against the failure to give notice within the prescribed period of a decision on an application for outline planning permission. The development proposed to develop 146 dwellings with associated infrastructure and open space provision.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the following issue:

  • Whether having regard to material planning considerations, any adverse impacts of the development proposed would significantly and demonstrably outweigh any benefits, when assessed against the policies of the Framework as a whole

Tilted Balance

The site is located in the open countryside and there was no dispute that the development conflicted with the relevant policies in the development plan. The Council accepted that they could not demonstrate a 5-year land supply. According to the Inspector, Paragraph 49 of the Framework was engaged via the tilted balance set out in paragraph 14 of the Framework. The adverse impacts that would arise from landscape, visual impact and loss of agricultural land was not significant with the Inspector attaching modest harm to the same. Significant benefits would come with the development which would amount to social, economic and environmental growth. The development was said to boost the supply of housing in the area and as such, the adverse impacts of the development did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies of the Framework.

On the basis of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download Decision here.

4. Development allowed for 32 dwellings located next to a listed building and within the AONB.

Appeal Ref: APP/K1128/W/16/3156062
Appeal Decision Date: 5th June 2017
Appellant: H2land
Respondent: South Hams District Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission

Background

An appeal was made by H2land against the refusal to grant permission for residential development of 32 dwellings at Garden Mill, Derby Road, Kingsbridge.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to four main issues.

  • The effect on a Grade II listed building
  • The design of the scheme
  • Whether the scheme makes adequate provision for affordable housing, education and open space facilities
  • The effect on South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Buttville House

The site is located to the south-west of the listed building. The site is enclosed by vegetation and trees along Derby Road. The appellant proposed to retain and supplement the trees and vegetation at the north-east of the site which is closest to the listed building in order to screen the development. It was acknowledged that views of the site from the garden of Buttville House is less enclosed by vegetation than at the point closer to the listed building, Derby Road would retain its essentially rural character and thus the immediate setting of the house and garden would be little changed. Furthermore, changes to the landscape would be confined to the south beyond Derby Road – the sylvan character would be retained. The Inspector considered that the relationship of the listed building to its gardens and surroundings would not be harmfully eroded. It was decided that with effective landscaping, the development has the capacity to preserve the setting of the listed building and its heritage significance. As such, no conflict was identified with Policy DP6 of the Development Policies Development Plan Document 2010 (DPD).

Design

The site forms part of allocated site K4 with an allocation for up to 50 dwellings. This includes the Garden Mill industrial estate and Buttville House. As the land within K4 is in multiple ownership, a co-ordinated approach was considered difficult. No evidence was put forth to show that the site inhibits or prevents future development, north of Derby road. The Inspector decided that the absence of an allocated site wide development strategy was not a reason to resist development and on the evidence before provided no basis on which to conclude that the proposal would prejudice development of K4 as a whole.

The Inspector further note that “the mix of these house types on a relatively small site is unconventional and there is a wide disparity between the low density of the green roof houses and the very high density of the terraces.  There is no evidence to suggest however that the design of the lower density housing has impacted on the quality of the design and layout of other parts of the site.  Rather the design overall appears to respond principally to the slope, but also to adjoining development including the setting of Buttville House (considered above) and the nature and layout of the existing houses to the south”. She concluded that there was nothing intrinsically fundamentally wrong in the design of the various elements and the scheme as a whole would express a clear design strategy and an overall legible coherence. In terms of affordable housing, the scheme made a provision of 12.5% whilst policies AH1 and AH2 sets a target of 55% on allocated sites. However, the viability assessment produced by the appellant was agreed with the Council.

With respect to education and open space facilities, the Council sought an education contribution of £87,556.80 and an Open Space contribution of £29,260.  No provision is made for either of these within the submitted planning obligations.  The Inspector noted that the Council was unable to identify what any sums collected would be spent on. The Council further sought a financial contribution of £380 per resident towards the increase or improvement of the sports facilities at the Recreation Ground. The officer’s report however noted that recreational facilities are in place and equipped to a reasonable extent at present.  The Inspector decided that such a contribution would fail to meet the tests of being necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms or be fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development. In light of this, it was concluded that the failure to make these contributions do not weigh against the proposal.

AONB

The Inspector noted that the appeal site lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and within Devon Character Area 49 – Salcombe to Kingsbridge Estuary. The Inspector concluded that “the site is visually contained, lies immediately adjacent to existing development and in this context I consider a development of 32 dwellings, retaining walls and associated infrastructure would not amount to major development in the AONB.  Paragraph 116 of the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework) is not therefore engaged. Nevertheless for the reasons given I conclude that the proposed development would have a harmful impact on the landscape and scenic beauty of the site contrary to DPD Policy DP2 which requires development to conserve or enhance the landscape character.  Beyond the site boundaries any harmful effect on the AONB landscape would at worst be negligible.   Whilst, in accordance with paragraph 115 of the Framework I give great weight to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in the AONB, the harm in this instance though present would thus be very limited”.

Conclusion

The Site does not form part of any proposed allocation in the emerging local plan, as such it was indicated that development was unsuitable. However, as the emerging plan is currently in the early stages of the plan making process  – limited weight was given to the same. The site has been identified in the adopted plan as an allocated site and the Council accepted that the proposal complies with policy K4. The Inspector found no prejudice to the rest of the allocation as a result of the development. In terms of housing supply, the Council could only demonstrate a 2-year supply. Although the development would deliver less than the policy target, of affordable home, the inspector found that the scheme nevertheless would accord with the Council’s policies and provide much needed homes in the area. Considerable weight was attached to this benefit.  As noted above, the listed building would be preserved and there would be no harm in terms of design quality, the scheme therefore accords with the development plan. Limited harm would be presented to the AONB and it was concluded that the considerable benefit of the provision of housing is sufficient in this instance to outweigh that harm.

On the basis of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download Decision here.

5. Development of up to 50 residential dwellings allowed despite the impact on character and appearance of designated area.

Appeal Ref: APP/E2205/W/16/3159895
Appeal Decision Date: 12th June 2017
Appellant: Gladman Developments Limited
Respondent: Ashford Borough Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission

Background

An appeal was made by Gladman Homes against the refusal to grant permission for “up to 50 residential dwellings (including up to 35% affordable housing), introduction of structural planting and landscaping, informal public open space and children’s play area, informal village green area, surface water flood mitigation and attenuation, vehicular access point from The Street and associated ancillary works. All matters to be reserved with the exception of the main site access”.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to two main issues.

  • effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the surrounding area, including, the Low Weald National Landscape Character Area, the Beult Valley Farmlands Character Area and the entrance to and visual and functional amenity of Smarden
  • The effect of the proposed development on users of the public right of way along the southern boundary of the site

Character & Appearance

The site is located to on the outskirts of Smarden covering 3.3ha of open field. The site was previously used for agricultural uses and sits within the Low Weld National Landscape Character  It was acknowledged that the development would change the character of the open arable field and thus would have a negative effect. However, the appellant proposed to retain the existing field boundaries and take advantage of existing mature tree and field boundary in order to screen the majority of its boundaries and supplement and enhance where appropriate.  The Inspector concluded that there would be some localised harm to the landscape character of the area, however this harm would be contained an limited with appropriate mitigation.

Concern was also raised about the visibility of the site from the public footpath and the access to the village when entering the village from the open countryside and beyond. The Inspector however stated that the retention of the boundary hedge would retain character of the landscape and serve to reduce the impact from the development and additional landscaping would reduce the intrusive visual impact. It was concluded that although there would be some minor localised harm to the entrance to the village along the road frontage, this would be mitigated by the retention of the boundary hedge, and the structural landscaping.

Reduced weight was given to policies TRS2 and TRS17 in the TRSDPD and policy CS1 of the Core Strategy due to the council falling short of the five-year housing supply as such, the tilted balance of paragraph 14 of the Framework was addressed. Significant weight was given to the emerging plan as the Council was considered to be proactive in addressing the housing need, however when taking into account the 20% buffer due to the councils poor performance in housing provision and with the council being at a very early stage limited weight was given to the policies.

Public right of way

The proposed development would reduce the openness and final section of the ProW, however with maintenance of the buffer zone and appropriate landscaping it was considered to not be an unpleasant environment and would still appear as a footpath at the outskirts of the village heading towards the open countryside. The inspector concluded that the development would not result in the material harm to the public right of way along the southern boundary of the site.

Conclusion

As the site would bring forward much needed homes in the area, significant benefit was attributed to the provision of affordable housing. As such, the minor adverse impacts would not clearly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the scheme and therefore planning permission was granted the appeal was allowed.

On the basis of above, the appeal was allowed.

Download Decision here.

6. Development of 88 residential dwellings allowed in the countryside despite the Council establishing a 5 year land supply.

Appeal Ref: APP/F1610/16/W/3151754

Appeal Decision Date: 13th June 2017
Appellant: Great Gable Ltd
Respondent: Cotswold District Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission

Background

An appeal was made by Great Gable Ltd against a failure to give notice within the prescribed period of a decision on an application for outline planning permission for “the erection of up to 88 dwellings, to include vehicular access off Park Way; new pedestrian and cycle links to the wider area; improvements to Siddington School, including improved access facilities and the erection of a new purpose built school hall; a solar park; ecological enhancements; strategic landscaping; and associated infrastructure”.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to one main issues.

  • the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the countryside, particularly with regard to its effect on the landscape and to its design

Character & Appearance

The site is located to in the countryside and to the south of Cirencester. The site was previously used for agricultural uses. The site is well screened with the proposed development to be set back within the site. The scheme proposes new planting to mitigate any visual effect on the countryside, however the Council contended that it would take 20 years for the development to be completely screened. It was acknowledged that the development would change the character of the site, particularly with the number of dwellings proposed and increase in vehicles etc and as such this will reduce the tranquillity of the area. Regardless of how well designed the proposal is, it would not be characteristic of the existing development in the area. The inspector concluded that there would be some harm to the character, appearance and distinctiveness, however, considering the site is undesignated, with “medium landscape value; the limited area to be developed with housing and its set-back, less-visible position; the extensive landscaping and planting proposed; and the eventual screening of the development from view..” the harm was considered as minor.

Conclusion

As the site would bring forward much needed homes in the area, significant benefit was attributed to the provision of affordable housing; 44 affordable dwellings. This was considered to be a significant benefit to which considerable weight was attached despite the council demonstrating a 5-year land supply. The policies restricting development were given little weight as the LP pre-dates that framework. LP policies 42 and 45 however were considered as consistent with the framework and the Inspector attached full weight to these, however the harm identified was considered as minor. The adverse impacts of the proposed development would therefore be significantly and demonstrably outweighed by the benefits; in the terms of paragraph 14 of the Framework it would amount to sustainable development.

In light of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download Decision here.

7. Development of 74 residential dwellings allowed in the countryside as Local Plan Policies were considered to restrict development.

Appeal Ref: APP/R0660/W/17/3170338
Appeal Decision Date: 23rd June 2017
Appellant: Muller Property Group
Respondent: Cheshire East Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission

Background

An appeal was made by Muller Property Group against a refusal to grant outline planning permission for outline planning application for residential development and access, all other matters reserved.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to one main issue

  • Whether the proposed development would be acceptable in principle in this location, having regard to local and national planning policies

The site comprising 2.7 ha of agricultural land fell outside of the defined settlement limits and within the open countryside. The site is adjacent to a new residential development currently under construction which was granted permission on appeal. It was noted that the proposals conflicted with policies RES.5 and NE.2 as development proposals were not intended for infilling for agricultural forestry. As the Local Plan was adopted prior to 2011, and the settlement boundary was defined to allow for sufficient growth for that period up to 2011, the current settlement boundary would in effect constrain development within the countryside. It was however acknowledged that although these policies restricted development, they served to protect the countryside and safeguard the character and amenity which is consistent with one of the core principles of the NPPF. The policies therefore were given moderate weight despite being outdated.

Landscape & Visual Impact

In terms of landscape and visual effects, the LVIA acknowledged that there would be substantial visual effects on the occupiers of neighbouring properties due to the close proximity of the development. The Council’s Landscape architect however advised that any landscape harm could be overcome by landscaping, including trees, open spaces and hedgerows. The Inspector concluded that the harm would be very modest nature given the ability to mitigate the harm through appropriate landscaping. Limited weight was therefore afforded to the landscape changes that would result from the proposed development.

Agricultural

The proposal was supported by an Agricultural Quality Report (AQR) which identified the land as Class 3B which falls below the what the Framework regards as best and versatile Land (1.2 and 3a). The Inspector concluded that even if the proposed development lead to the loss of some of the best and most versatile agricultural land, it would not be a significant loss, and consequently limited weight was attached to the loss.

In terms of accessibility, the site is located in a sustainable area. The site was considered by the Council for selection to deliver residential development in Alsager, the site was considered to be sustainably located as it met the minimum standards for access to the majority of services identified in the Sustainability Appraisal, Accessibility Assessment. In light of this, the inspector concluded that there would be no conflict with the core policies of the Framework.

Conclusion

As the council could not demonstrate a 5-year land supply, this was seen as a material consideration. The policies restricting development were given little weight as the LP pre-dates that framework and the harm identified was considered as minor. The adverse impacts of the proposed development would therefore be significantly and demonstrably outweighed by the benefits; in the terms of paragraph 14 of the Framework it would amount to sustainable development.

In light of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download Decision here.

8. Residential development refused in Islington, London due to the inadequate provision for delivering the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing.

Appeal Ref: APP/V5570/W/16/3165633
Appeal Decision Date: 16th June 2017
Appellant: TPS Brighton Developments Ltd
Respondent: London Borough of Islington.

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission

Background

An appeal was made by PS Brighton Developments Ltd against a refusal of permission for the demolition of the existing building and redevelopment of the site to provide a part two, part four, part five storey mixed use building (plus basement) comprising 598sq.m. A1 retail floorspace at ground floor and basement level and no.13 (C3) residential units at first to fourth floors (6 x 1 beds, 5 x 2 beds, 2 x 3 bed), with associated amenity space and cycle storage.

In-principle approval was granted for the site in early 2016, however the application was refused due to the Appellants failure to agree on affordable housing delivery.

In dismissing the appeal the Inspector gave consideration to one main issue

  • whether the proposed development makes adequate provision for delivering the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing

Affordable Housing

The Council’s adopted Core Strategy 2011 requires all sites delivering 10 or more units to provide affordable homes on site. Policy 3,12 of the London Plan 2016 also prioritises n site affordable housing – the Council’s policies were regarded to be broadly consistent with the London Plan in this instance. The Appellants viability assessment showed that it is possible for affordable housing to be delivered on site. The Inspector stated that “it is preferable to ensure that the opportunity for marketing extends as widely as possible.  Taking into account the appellant’s comments that some marketing of the dwellings will effective occur prior to completion, it is appropriate to require a formal period of marketing to occur after completion of the scheme, should it be necessary.  In these circumstances, the Council’s suggested three-month period is appropriate”.

Advanced stage viability review

The Council relied on the Development Viability Supplementary Planning Document (2016) (SPD). The Appellant contended that the Council was over reliant on SPD guidance, rather than development plan policy, in determining the acceptability of the affordable housing component of the proposed scheme. As the SPD provided technical guidance and was consistent with Core Strategy Policy CS 12, in that it seeks to provide the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing, in respect of local circumstances, it was decided that the Council’s did not overrely on the SPDs.

The Inspector stated that the “submitted planning obligation sets out two opportunities for a viability review, which would be triggered in the event of a delay to the scheme’s implementation or completion.  The Council’s preferred approach would base the reappraisal on the completed unit price, thereby reflecting up-to-date evidence, prior to disposal of the final units. This is a robust approach that would enable the development to achieve the maximum reasonable provision of affordable housing”.

Conclusion

The appellants proposal for 2 affordable housing units was considered as inadequate. “It would conflict with Core Strategy Policy CS 12, and the Council’s adopted Development Management Policies (2013) Policy DM9.2, which together require the Council to seek appropriate levels of affordable housing delivery, with the inclusion of planning obligations if required.  These policies are consistent with the relevant strategic policies set out in the London Plan”

Having regard to the above, the appeal was dismissed.

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9. Appeal refused as distribution of the affordable housing within the site, and lack of integration with the market housing considered a material harm

Appeal Ref: APP/X2410/W/16/3163501

Appeal Decision Date: 28th June 2017
Appellant: Bloor Homes Limited
Respondent: Charnwood Borough Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a grant subject to conditions of consent, agreement or approval to details required by a condition of a planning permission

Background

An appeal was made by Cynthia Spence and Nicholas Wells against the decision of Charnwood Borough Council. Application Ref P/16/0302/2, dated 4 February 2016, sought approval of details pursuant to conditions of outline planning permission Ref P/14/0428/2 granted on 9 November 2015. The Council refused the application for the development proposed comprises residential development of up to 160 dwellings, public open space and associated works.  All matters other than access were reserved for future consideration.

In dismissing the appeal the Inspector gave consideration the following issues:

  • If the conditions attached to outline planning permission P/14/0428/2 require the agreement of an appropriate mix of housing at the reserved matters stage; if so
  • whether the proposed development provides an appropriate mix of housing
  • whether the distribution of affordable housing would result in an inclusive and mixed community; and,
  • the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area

Agreement of Housing Mix

The Inspector concluded that the conditions attached to the outline permission did not require the agreement of an appropriate mix of housing at the reserved matter stage – as such the inspector did not go on to address the appropriate housing mix.

In coming to this decision, the Inspector referred to Appeal decision APP/T3725/A/14/2221613 which allowed an outline planning application and applied a condition requiring details of the mix of type and size of market dwellings to be submitted prior to the commencement of development. The Inspector stated that “In accordance with paragraph 206 of the Framework, conditions should only be imposed where they are, amongst other things, necessary.  If the Secretary of State had considered that the mix could be appropriately considered under the reserved matters which, in that instance, included appearance and scale, then it would not have been necessary for him to apply the housing mix condition.   I am aware that I may have been party to information not in front of the Secretary of State at the time of his decision.  However, his decision reinforces my view that housing mix cannot reasonably be considered under the condition requiring, amongst other things, the submission of details of scale and appearance at reserved matters stage”

Affordable Housing

It was concluded that the distribution of affordable housing within the proposal would not result in an inclusive and mixed community.  It would therefore be contrary to the requirements of Policy CS3 of the CS, paragraph 50 of the Framework and advice in the SPD. It was noted that there would be a mix of 48 affordable houses (AHs) on site in accordance with the requirements of the S106 agreement which would be delivered in two clusters of 15 dwellings and one cluster of 18 dwellings within the site. It was decided that there would be a conflict with the guidance within the SPD as the clusters should generally consist of groups of up to 10 dwellings which might lead to a larger number of houses in a cluster include the size of the site and site constraints.

The appellant contended that these clusters were proposed due to design constraints, this reason however did not provide a sufficiently robust reason agree the clusters as proposed.  The Inspector stated that she saw “no reason why AHs could not be located north of the spine road. According to the site layout plan, there is only limited planting proposed on the spine road, and note that some of the market housing in this location is sited close to the road thereby allowing no room for planting.   Furthermore, the scheme approved under (P/17/0314/2) proposes AH on both sides of the spine road”

Character & Appearance

In terms of character and appearance, that the proposal would not be harmful to the character and appearance of the area.  The inspector concluded that the development is of high design quality which respects and enhances the local environment and the character of the area and utilises materials appropriate to the locality.

Conclusion

The fact the site was seen to enhance the environment and character of the area, this did not outweigh the material harm in terms of the distribution of the affordable housing within the site, and lack of integration with the market housing.

Having regard to the above, the appeal was dismissed.

Download Decision here.

10. Application for 147 dwellings in the countryside refused due to the impact on the character of landscape despite offering numerous benefits.

Appeal Ref: APP/L2820/W/16/3149835

Appeal Decision Date: 16th June 2017
Appellant: Gladman Developments Ltd
Respondent: Kettering Borough Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Gladman Developments Ltd against the decision of Kettering Borough Council for the refusal of “outline planning permission for up to 147 residential dwellings (including up to 30% affordable housing), introduction of structural planting and landscaping, informal public open space and children’s play area, surface water flood mitigation and attenuation, vehicular access point from Rushton Road, and associated ancillary works.  Demolition of on-site buildings and structures at Willowbrook Stud Farm.  All matters to be reserved with the exception of the main site access’

In dismissing the appeal the Inspector gave consideration the following issues:

  • whether the area has a 5-year supply of deliverable housing sites and the implications for development plan policy;
  • whether the appeal site forms a suitable location for housing with particular regard to its accessibility to local services and facilities;
  • the effect of the development on the integrity of the green infrastructure network;
  • the effect of the development on the character and appearance of the landscape

5-year Land Supply

The parties disagreed on the quantum of housing likely to be delivered over the next 5 years. The Inspector noted that there had not been a persistent under delivery by the Council and applied a 5% buffer. In terms of lapse rate for small sites, the inspector stated “that it is appropriate to apply a lapse rate of 10% on small sites as by their very nature they often have constraints to be overcome and may not be developed.  In respect of this appeal, only 79 dwellings on small sites are included in the five-year supply.  Applying a 10% lapse rate reduces this to 71, a loss of 8 dwellings. This is not significant in terms of the overall supply”.

The Inspector concluded that the council the Council could demonstrate a housing supply in the region of 5.7 years including a 5% buffer. This amounts to an anticipated supply of 3589 dwellings for the period 1 April 2017-31 March 2022 which exceeds the 5 year requirement of 3130 dwellings.

Suitable Location

The Site lies in the open countryside on the edge of Desborough. The key issue which was debated was whether the scheme provides the opportunity to use non car means of transport. The inspector noted that there was a bus top which provides hourly service to Corby and was located 130 m away from the site and another which is 300m meters away providing service to Desborough, Rothwell and Kettering three times an hour. However, there were no cycle lanes leading to town centre which would deter some users. The Inspector considered that the site was in a suitable location for housing provided a sustainable modes of transport.

Green Infrastructure

The Council relied on JCS Policy 19 and contended that development would compromise their integrity, and therefore that of the overall green infrastructure (GI) network, will not be permitted. The Inspector noted that scheme includes the provision of open space to the southern part of the site which would provide the opportunity for biodiversity enhancement and concluded that given the size of the development she did not consider that it would cause harm to the integrity of the corridor as a whole. Taking account of the potential green infrastructure improvements offered by the development, no conflict was found with policy 19.

Landscape

It was concluded that the proposal would have adverse effects on the appearance and landscape, and would not conserve the landscape of the settlement despite the site not being a valued landscape in term of the framework. The site lies on the open valley slopes of the River Ise and the proposal would intrude into the valley landscape and “breach the natural boundary of the settlement provided by the wooded tributary corridor of the River Ise”. Furthermore, the proposal would result in significant negative visual impacts from viewpoints to the south of the site and from Sycamore Drive and moderately adverse impacts on views from the north. As such, this would result in harm to the character and appearance of the landscape.

Conclusion

Whilst there were clear benefits to the scheme, including employment during construction, green infrastructure, affordable housing and improvement of biodiversity – these benefits however did not outweigh the harm presented to the character of the area. As such, the proposal conflicts with the development plan which was given material consideration, thus, the proposal did not form sustainable development

Having regard to the above, the appeal was dismissed.

Download Decision here.

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