Category Archives: Legal

 

Legal Beagle November Edition

 

Welcome to the Urbanissta Legal Beagle’s case work reviews – we’re tracking the decisions on proposed developments to see what precedents have been set in recent judgements 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. We’ll be giving you an updated every other month so remember to keep any eye out for our updates.

Our guest barrister, Giles Atkinson of 6 Pump Court provides a commentary on a recent decision; Catesby Estates Ltd v Peter Steer.

Here are 10 recent planning appeals, giving you insights into the latest precedents:

1. Reasons for Planning Approvals

Appeal Ref: C1/2017/1840 and C1/2017/1934
Appeal Decision Date: 18th July 2018
Appellant: Catesby Estates Ltd
Council: Amber Valley District Council

The recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Catesby Estates[1] is an interesting and important one about how to determine the extent of the ‘setting’ of a heritage asset.

‘Setting’ is defined in the glossary to the NPPF, July 2018, although the definition is unchanged from the 2012 version:

Setting of a heritage asset:  The surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced.  Its extent is not fixed and may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve.  Elements of a setting may make a positive or negative contribution to the significance of an asset, may affect the ability to appreciate that significance or may be neutral.

The development at the heart of the case is a proposed 400 homes in Allestree, Derbyshire.  The application was refused by the LPA (Amber Valley) essentially because of harm to the setting of the nearby Grade 1 listed Kedlestone Hall.  The land on which the housing was proposed had formerly formed part of the estate for the Hall.  Catesby appealed successfully to the Secretary of State, the Inspector deciding that the development was not within the setting of the Hall because there was no visual connection between the development site and the Hall, but the Inspector’s decision granting outline permission for the development was quashed in the High Court following a section 288 challenge.

The Inspector was found by the High Court to have wrongly assessed the impact of the proposal on the setting of Kedlestone Hall as being determined by the absence of physical or visual connection between the Hall and the land on which the housing was proposed to be built, notwithstanding the historic, social and economic connections between them.  The Inspector had found that without a physical or visual connection the appeal site was not within the setting of the Hall; in the Inspector’s judgment it was necessary for there to be a physical or visual connection for the development site to come within the setting of the Hall.

Lang J concluded that the Inspector’s interpretation of setting, requiring there to be a physical or visual connection between heritage asset and development, was too narrow.

The reason why this decision raised so many eyebrows was that it appeared to be at odds with a CA decision in Williams[2] made a few weeks before Lang J’s judgment in which Lindblom LJ (like the Inspector at Kedleston Hall) appeared to rely on the need for there to be a distinct visual relationship between heritage asset and development for the latter to affect the setting of the former.

Catesby appealed to the Court of Appeal against the judgment of Lang J and the case came before LJs McFarlane, Asplin and Lindblom who, not surprisingly, gave the leading judgment with which the others agreed.

Essentially it was argued in the CA on behalf of Catesby and the Secretary of State that the Inspector had not disregarded the other non-visual and physical considerations necessary to consider when identifying the extent of the setting of the Hall.  On behalf of Mr Steer and Heritage England, it was said, on the contrary, that the Inspector had indeed taken too narrow a view, focusing on views and visual impacts alone and that a visual connection is not necessary in every case.

In his judgment, Lindblom LJ reminded us first that ‘setting’ is not statutorily defined and does not lend itself to precise definition but it is implicit in section 66 of the Listed Buildings Act[3] that the setting of a listed building is capable of being affected in some discernible way by development, whether within the setting or outside.

Importantly, and in accordance with much of what the CA has been saying recently, he went on to make clear that the identification of the extent of the setting of a heritage asset is always a matter of fact and planning judgment for the decision maker, not the court.

Addressing the apparent conflict with his own decision in Williams Lindblom J followed what he had said in that case to the effect that for a proposed development to affect the setting of a listed building there must be a distinct visual relationship between the two which is more than remote or ephemeral and which bears on one’s experience of the asset in its surroundings.  However, that does not mean that when considering the extent of an asset’s setting the decision maker should ignore the factors other than the visual or physical, such as the economic, social and historical.

Noting that the CA in another case had acknowledged that smell could harm the setting of a listed building, Lindblom drew together three general points.

First, that it is important that the decision maker understand what the setting of a listed building is, otherwise it would be difficult for an assessment to be made of how development affects it.  Second, although this is never a purely subjective exercise there is not, and nor could there be, a single approach which would apply to every case; this must always be a matter of applying planning judgment to the particular facts of a case with relevant policy, guidance and advice in mind.  Third, the effect of a particular development on the setting of a listed building is a matter for the decision maker.

In light of these points Lindblom agreed with the submissions made on behalf of Catesby and the SoS that the Inspector had not taken too narrow a view of setting, and had not concentrated on the visual and physical effect of the development, to the exclusion of all else.  The Inspector, as a matter of planning judgment, was not saying that land could only fall within the setting of the Hall if there was a physical or visual connection, he was saying the extent of the setting in this case could not be determined by the historical, social and economic connections.

The appeal was therefore allowed and the decision of the High Court overturned.

That may not be the end of the matter however.  At the time of writing Mr Steer has applied to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against Lindblom LJ’s decision, that permission having been refused by the CA itself[4].  The appeal is essentially on the basis that there is confusion still about the correct approach because of the Willia

Download Decision Here.

[1] In fact 2 appeals joined: Catesby Estates Ltd v Peter Steer, Historic England and SoS for CLG v Peter Steer, Historic England [2018] EWCA Civ 1697

[2] R (oao Williams) v Powys CC [2017] EWCA Civ 427

[3] In considering whether to grant planning permission…for development which affects a listed building or its setting, the local planning authority or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.

[4] On the 22nd August 2018

 

2. Benefits of the proposal are insufficient to outweigh the impact on Landscape and Setting of Listed Building.

Appeal ref: APP/X1545/W/17/3185429
Appeal Decision Date: 29 August 2018
Appellant: Endurance Estates Strategic Land Ltd
Council: Maldon 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. The applicant appealed against the refusal of for planning permission for an outline application for the construction of up to 45 dwellings with associated garaging, parking, public open space, landscaping, access, highways drainage and infrastructure works.

Background
An appeal was made by Endurance Estates Strategic Land Ltd against the decision to refuse planning permission for 45 dwellings and associated works by Maldon District Council

 In dismissing the appeal the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • Whether the Council demonstrates a suitable supply of housing land;
  • The effects of the proposal on the landscape/visual character of the area; and
  • The effects of the proposal on the setting of the nearby listed building.

 Land Supply
The Inspector decided that the Council can be considered to have a five year supply of housing sites, with an appropriate buffer, for the purposes of this appeal.

Landscape/Visual Character
The Inspector acknowledged that the land is not covered by any specific landscape designation. However its value is derived from the fact that it would form the immediate rural setting at the edge of the Garden Suburb; its intrinsic value is its openness.  As such, the proposed development would undermine the Policy S4 which places emphasis on the protection of open space.

Setting of the Listed Building
Taking account of the low level of contribution to the significance of the historic asset that the appeal site makes, The Inspector considered that it would result in ‘less than substantial harm’ to its significance, as set out in paragraph 196 of the NPPF.  Within this level of harm the Council suggested that it should be seen as ‘moderate’ and the appellant suggests that it would be ‘minor’. The Inspector decided that minor harm that would arise.

 Conclusion
The proposal put forward a number of benefits which is considered to carry significant weight. However, the due to the harm identified in respect of landscape and visual character and the impact on the setting of the listed building, the benefits of the proposal are insufficient to outweigh this conflict and the harm arising.

In light of the above, the Inspector refused planning permission.

Download Decision Here.

3. Proposal for 2,600 units refused permission by SoS due to the less than substantial harm to the significance of a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Appeal Ref: APP/U3935/W/16/3154437
Appeal Decision Date: 13 June 2018
Appellant: Ainscough Strategic Land Ltd
Council: Swindon Borough Council

The appeal was recommended dismissal by the Inspector. On 19th August 2016 , the appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination. The applicant appealed against the refusal of for planning permission for an outline application (with all matters reserved save the detailed access off Wanborough Road) for demolition and/or conversion of the existing buildings on the site and redevelopment to provide:

  • “Up to 2,600 residential units (Use Class C3); – Up to 1,765 sq m of community/retail uses (Use Classes D1/D2/A1/A2/A3/A4)
  • Up to 3,000 sq m of business/employment use (Use Class B1);
  • A Primary School (2.2 ha); – Open space, strategic landscaping and other green infrastructure (including SUDs and areas for nature conservation);
  • Other associated road and drainage infrastructure;
  • Indicative primary access road corridors to the A420; and
  • Improvements and widening of existing route off Wanborough Road to provide pedestrian, cycle and bus access. In accordance with application ref: S/OUT/15/0753/KICO dated 30 April 2015 (“the masterplan scheme”)”

Background
An appeal was made by Ainscough Strategic Land Ltd against the decision to refuse planning permission for 2,600 dwellings and associated works by Swindon Borough Council.

In dismissing the appeal the SoS gave consideration to the following main issues.

Heritage;
Open space;
Trees;
Transport; and
Sustainable Development

Heritage
The SoS has carefully analysed the impact on the Schedule Ancient Monument and agreed with the Inspector that to achieve development of the Masterplan Site inevitably, this would involve the permanent loss of much of the remaining rural setting to the SM. The identified harm to the SM has considerable importance and weight. He further agrees that in the terms of the Framework, the proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of the SM and, as required by paragraph 134, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal. The proposal puts forward significant public benefits such as affordable housing, employment and biodiversity gains, however the less than substantial harm to the significance of the SM is not outweighed by the public benefits of the proposal.

Open Space
The SoS agreed with the Inspector that “the proposals do not demonstrate the quantity and quality of open space sought by the open space standards would be achievable within the proposed parameters and environmental constraints of the site. He further agrees that the GI parameter plans are not of a standard to be approved. He further agrees that to leave all matters to be resolved through planning condition(s) and/or a planning obligation would not be reasonable taking into account the inadequacy of the GI parameter plans. As such the masterplan proposals fail to comply with Policy EN3”.

Trees
The scheme proposed the removal of protected trees on the western side of the internal road in order to widen the access route to serve the development Site. The SoS considered that the scheme is not in accordance with a requirement of Policy EN1 criterion (a).

Transport
The SoS agreed with the Inspector in that the proposals would not achieve good connectivity within the development and to the surrounding area and not provide highway infrastructure in accordance with an acceptable strategy. He further agrees that the proposal conflicts with Policies TR1(a), DE1 and NC3(b).

Sustainable development
The SoS agreed with the Inspector that the development of the site is in accordance with the sustainable development strategy of Policy SD2 and would secure a better balance between housing demand and supply. However, the proposals do not meet a range of principles in Policy SD1 to ensure the creation of a high quality and sustainable community. As such, for the reasons given above, the Secretary of State concludes that the scheme is not sustainable development and is not supported by Policy SD3”

Conclusion
It was considered that the proposal conflicts with a number of policies, namely, Policies NC3, EN10, CM1, EN1, TR1, DE1, EN3, EN4, EN6, EN11, SD1 and SD3 of the development plan, and is not in accordance with the development plan overall.

The proposal puts forward a number of benefits including affordable housing, as such this carries significant weight in favour of the proposal. However, the proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of the SM. He considers that the proposal would not conserve the setting to Lotmead Farmhouse and would adversely affect the significance of this non-designated heritage asset.  Having regard to s66(1) of the LBCA he affords these harms substantial weight.

In light of the above, the SOS refused planning permission.

Download Decision Here

4.SoS disagrees with Inspector and rejects proposal for 120 dwellings due to conflict with Neighbourhood Plan

Appeal Ref: APP/Q3115/W/17/3180400
Appeal Decision Date: 20 July 2018
Appellant: R J & S STYLES
Council: South Oxfordshire District Council

The appeal was recommended approval by the Inspector. On 26th February 2018 , the appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination. The applicant appealed against the refusal of for planning permission for up to 120 dwellings (40% affordable) with associated access, public open space, landscaping and play space, in accordance with application ref: P16/S3441/O, dated 14 October 2016.

Background
An appeal was made by RJ & S Styles against the decision to refuse planning permission for 120 dwellings and associated works by Oxford District Council

In dismissing the appeal the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • Housing land supply;
  • Whether tilted balance applies;
  • Location of housing;
  • Effects on character and appearance;
  • Integration with Benson village
  • Loss of agricultural land

Housing Land Supply
The Council and the Appellant agreed in their Statement of Common Ground that the Council had 4.1 years of deliverable housing, based on the Council’s published assessment dated May 2017. In April 2018 the Council published a revised housing land supply figure of 5.4 years, this figure was disputed by the Appellant and it was argued that there would only be a 4.8 year housing supply based on a recent appeal decision. The SoS accepted the appellants argument and decided the calculation should be based on 2017 and 2018 midpoint figure. As such, it was decided that the Council can demonstrate a 5 year land supply.

Whether tilted balance applies
As the Council could demonstrate a 5-year land supply, it was considered by the the Secretary of State that the relevant policies in the development plan were not silent or absent or out of date on the matter of housing allocations in respect of Benson. A such, the tilted balance did not apply.

Location of housing
The SoS agreed with the Inspector in that the proposals would not protect the countryside. Policy NP1 seeks to resists development where a site is not allocated and outside a built-up area. It was further agreed that SOCS policies CSS1, CSH1 and CSR1 do not rule out allocations being made on sites outside existing villages, nor does it allow development on an ad hoc basis. It was decided that the appeal proposal would not accord with the development plan, considered as a whole. The conflict with Policy NP1 was given significant weight.

 Effects on character and appearance
With regards to the character and appearance of the village, the SoS agreed with the inspector that the proposed development would not cause any significant harm to the character or appearance of the landscape, or to the village setting.

Integration with Benson village
The SoS agreed with the Inspector in that the proposed development would be a natural extension of the village and would be accessible for pedestrians, cyclist and motor vehicles. It was decided that there would be no conflict with any relevant policies, including SOLP Policy T1 or BNhP Policies NP10 and NP11.

Loss of agricultural land
The development proposals do not conflict with the advice in NPPF paragraphs 109 and 112 relating to the protection of agricultural land and soils, or with any other national or local policies.

Conclusion
It was considered that the proposal carries many benefits, particularly the provision of additional housing, including affordable housing, which carries significant weight in favour of the development. Moderate weight was given to the benefits to the local economy that would come from the proposal and limited weight was given to the provision of on-site open space and play areas, and the enhancement to the public transport facilities. The proposal however conflicts with Policies G2, G4 and NP1 of the development plan, and is not in accordance with the development plan overall.

As such, when taking into account the advice in paragraph 198 of the Framework that where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force, planning permission should not normally be granted, the SoS gave very significant weight to the conflict with the BNhP.

In light of the above, the SOS refused planning permission.

Download Decision Here.

5. Housing figures in Emerging Local Plan (Regulation 22) given limited weight

Appeal Ref: APP/P0240/W/16/3164961 Appeal Decision Date: 16 August 2018
Appellant: Gladman Developments Limited
Council: Central Bedfordshire

Land between 103 and 27 Langford Road, Henlow, Bedfordshire SG16 6AF
The appeal was mad under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant outline planning permission. The Inspector dismissed the appeal on 16 August 2018.

Background
An appeal was made by Gladman Developments against the decision to refuse 135 residential dwellings (including up to 35% 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 points from Langford Road and associated ancillary works.

Preliminary Matters
When refusing permission, the Council originally put forward two reasons for refusal.  One of these reasons related to the absence of a legal agreement which  was later supplied prior to the Inquiry as such, the second refusal had been overcome.  The remaining issue relates to the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area.

In dismissing the Appeal the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issue:

  • The effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area

Landscape
The Site lies within the Bedfordshire and Cambridge Claylands National Character Area (CCNCA).  The local character the site falls within Landscape Character Type 4C, the Upper Ivel Clay Valley. The characteristics are mixed land use predominately of arable farmland and large and medium scale geometric arable fields bounded by hedgerows. The submitted LVIA concludes that the impact would be negligible which the inspector agreed with. The proposed development would replace an open arable field with built development as such, would be completely different nature to that which currently exists this was considered a major effect.

Visual
The Inspector analysed each view point and stated that views of the site would also be available from several nearby properties.  In terms of views of the Site, the most affected residents would be those living in the dwelling directly to the south of the Site.  At present they have a rural view from the first floor windows over an arable field to the woods to the north.  This would be replaced by a view of a housing estate.  Neighbouring properties would have more oblique views of the Site. The LVA rates the overall effect of this for the properties south of the site at ten years as major adverse to minor adverse and the Inspector agreed with this and considered that residents of the two northernmost properties would

suffer the major adverse effect. The inspector concluded that the development would have a major adverse landscape effect on the Site and its immediate context as well as major adverse effects on several visual receptors as well as moderate adverse on others.

Five year land supply
It was agreed by both parties that the Council have a five-year land supply. However, the Council submitted Draft Local Plan (DLP) for examination and the housing need figure of 1967 dpa is put forward.  If this figure is taken as the housing need then the appellant considers that the Council would be unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply. However, as the DLP is yet to be examined and has significant objections it was agreed between the parties that the emerging policies in the DLP should be given limited weight. However, the Appellant argued that the Housing figure of 1967 should be given material weight as the DLP has now been submitted for examination. The Inspector disagreed with this approach as the policies and figures should not be treated differently and states that until the DLP becomes adopted, the figure within the SHMA of 1600 dpa should be taken as the Council’s housing need.  Therefore the Council can demonstrate a five-year land supply.

Conclusion
The inspector concluded that the development would have an adverse impact on the landscape and its immediate context as well as major adverse effects on several visual receptors and moderate adverse on others.  The proposed development could also be seen as a small incremental change that if continued, could result in the blurring of the identities of Henlow, Clifton and Langford. Despite the economic and social benefits of the proposals, they were not individually or in combination enough to outweigh the harm that identified to the character and appearance of the area

In light of the above, the SOS refused planning permission.

Download Decision here

6.140 dwelling allowed in a village of around 700 dwellings.

Appeal Ref: APP/P0240/W/17/3190584 Appeal Decision Date: 22 May 2018
Appellant: Gladman Developments Limited
Council: Central Bedfordshire

The appeal is allowed and outline planning permission is granted for demolition of 59 Shefford Road and associated buildings and the erection of up to 145 dwellings with public open space, landscaping and sustainable drainage system (SuDS) and vehicle access from Shefford Road at 59 Shefford Road, Meppershall, Shefford SG17 5LL.

Background
A
n appeal was made by Gladman Developments against the decision to refuse outline planning permission for 145 dwellings and associated works by Central Bedfordshire Council. All maters except for access were reserved for future consideration.

Preliminary Matters
The application was refused for two reasons including development located outside of the settlement boundary and with the absence of a completed legal agreement securing financial contributions to offset infrastructure impact, including education, recreation and the provision of affordable housing, the development would have an unmitigated and unacceptable impact on existing local infrastructure. The development would therefore not amount to sustainable development

At the inquiry, the appellant questioned the validity of the council’s evidence to suggest a five year supply of land and suggested a 20% buffer should be applied. However recent case law suggested that there was not a persistent under delivery and a 5% buffer should be applied. The Inspector concluded that a 5 year HLS has been demonstrated using an OAN of 32,000 homes over a 20 year period from 2015 and a 5% buffer and that the Luton unmet need should not be included in the supply calculation.

The Inspector also referenced that a new local plan was being prepared and at an early stage of preparation and had limited bearing on his consideration of the appeal.

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

  • The suitability of the site for the development proposed in terms of its relationship with the existing settlement of Meppershall and its accessibility to shops and services; and
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the site and its surroundings.

Suitability of The Site For The Development
The Inspector referred to other decisions including Gladman v Daventry that revolved around Policy DM4 that seeks to protect the countryside for its own sake and this blanket protection applies to all areas outside of settlement envelopes irrespective of their landscape value or sensitivity.

The Inspector identified a conflict between Policy DM4 and the NPPF and identified that policy DM4 would frustrate the Council’s ability to achieve a 5 year HLS and that the policy is, therefore, not consistent with paragraph 47 of the Framework.

The inspector identified that a development of 150 dwellings would result in a material increase in the size of the existing village of around 700 homes. However, other than in respect of the effect on character and appearance, the Council has not identified any harm that would flow from that increase. No substantive evidence was submitted to show an unacceptable impact on local services. Accordingly, the Inspector found find no reason to conclude that the site would be unsuitable for the form or level of development proposed and find no conflict with the development plan in this regard.

Character and Appearance
The Inspector found that there is no risk that the proposal would lead to the village merging with any other settlement. The proposed areas of built development indicated on the Development Framework Plan would be some distance from the unsettled hill slopes and, in this respect, the proposal can be distinguished from new development being built. There were only limited views of the site from a distance and the proposal was identified as in keeping with landscape character guidelines.

The Planning Balance
The inspector concluded that the appeal site was not in an unsustainable location and there would not be a conflict with policies CS16 or SADP Policies DM3 or DM14. A conflict with Policy DM4 was identified but this was only given limited weight. the site does not fall within an designated area and the inspector identified a number of benefits arising from the provision of additional market housing including 51 affordable homes.

Conclusion
The inspector concluded that the adverse impacts of development on the landscape do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits identified and that the tilted balance in favour of a grant of planning permission therefore applies.

Download Decision her

7. Lack of 5-year land supply has lead to the approval of 123 houses in Longridge.

Appeal Ref: APP/T2350/W/17/3186969 Appeal Decision Date: 22nd May 2018
Appellant: VH Land Partnership
Council: Ribble Valley Borough Council

Background
An appeal was made by VH Land Partnership against the decision to refuse outline permission for up to 123 houses; demolition of an existing house (74 Higher Road) and formation of access to Higher Road at Land at Higher Road, Longridge.

In granting permission, the Inspector gave consideration to the main issue being whether the development proposed would be consistent with the objectives of policies relating to the location and supply of housing.

Housing Land Supply in Ribble Valley
During the course of the Inquiry, it was identified that there were a number of disputed sites within the Council’s land supply, reducing the council’s figures by 136 dwellings. This reduction led to the Council’s supply amounting to 4.5 years including a 20% buffer. The Inspector identified that even if the Council’s predictions relating to some of the sites prove to be more accurate, it would not significantly alter the housing land supply position and would only marginally reduce the shortfall within the range of 4.5 years and a maximum of 4.7 years of deliverable housing land supply. In that respect, to conclude on the compliance of the proposal with the development plan and the Framework as a whole as part of the planning balance, it is necessary to firstly consider any other matters that are relevant to the proposal. The other matters are set out below:

Highway and Pedestrian Safety
The development would not increase the demand for on-street parking or increase traffic flows on Higher Road to an extent that existing highway conditions and parking arrangements would be significantly altered or worsened. The development would not have a detrimental impact upon highway safety or preclude access for emergency vehicles.

Living Conditions
The masterplan and illustrative material submitted with the planning application demonstrate that adequate separation distances to neighbouring properties

The Inspector did not consider that the extent of those effects would result in significant harm or disturbance to their existing living conditions.

Ecology, Trees and Open Space
The Inspector was satisfied that detailed submissions could suitably incorporate existing high and moderate quality trees within the site, together with the trees and hedgerows along the site boundary and those located on neighbouring land with crown overhangs or root protection areas within the site. Public open space within the site, including useable spaces, natural play spaces, pedestrian footpath links and cycle routes, can be secured as part of the reserved matters and conditions in accordance with the illustrative details within the masterplan

Drainage and Flood Risk
The development would not be at unacceptable risk of flooding or increase the risk of flooding to surrounding properties, subject to the suitability of the detailed site layout as part of the reserved matters.

Conclusion
For the reasons given above, the Inspector concluded that the appeal should be allowed and planning permission granted subject to the conditions set out in the attached schedule.

Download Decision here.

8. Compliance with Extant Code for Sustainable Homes Condition Removed

Appeal Ref: APP/E5900/W/18/3199690 Appeal Decision Date: 17 August 2018
A
ppellant: Mr Peter Magri
Council: London Borough of Tower Hamlets

 The appeal was made under Section 78 of the TCPA 1990 against a refusal to grant permission under Section 73.

Background
An appeal was made by Mr Peter Magri against the decision to refuse permission for a variation to the Code for Sustainable Homes condition attached to a permission PA/11/01818 granted on the 5th July 2013 for 57 apartments and 970sqm of commercial space for A1, B1/D1 use as a part 7, part 8 storey development without complying with a condition attached to planning permission Ref PA/11/01818, dated 5 July 2013.

In allowing the appeal, the Inspector gave consideration to:

  • Whether the condition is reasonable and necessary in the interests of addressing climate change and achieving sustainable development.

Changes to the planning practice guidance in 2015 saw the removal of Code for Sustainable Homes(CSH)from national policy with the exception of legacy cases. The Council contended that the withdrawal of the CSH relates to planning conditions for new approvals only and that the development  in this case was a legacy case. Legacy cases are defined as residential development that are legally contracted to apply a code policy such as affordable housing through the National Affordable Housing Programme 2015 to 2018 or earlier programme, or where planning permission has been granted subject to a condition stipulating discharge of a code level which a developer is not appealing or seeking to have removed or varied.

.As the developer is appealing the condition and seeking to have it removed, it cannot be considered a legacy case.

The inspector noted that Based on the PPG, the proposal would not be required to be built to zero carbon. Nonetheless, there would be an element of conflict with development plan policies. However, in the context of Section 38 (6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act and Section 70 (2) of the Act, the great weight I attribute to the PPG outweighs the weight I afford to the conflict with the above noted development plan policies. The inspector also recognised that owing to Building Regulations Part L (2013) requirements, despite the removal of the condition, the proposal would still address climate change and achieve sustainable development.

Other Matters
The Inspector also noted that the PPG makes it clear that decision notices for the grant of planning permission under section 73 of the Act should also repeat the relevant conditions from the original planning permission, unless they have already been discharged.

It was also cited that Section 73 (5) the Act and the PPG5 are clear that planning permission cannot be granted under this section of the Act to extend the time limit within which a development must be started or an application for approval of reserved matters must be made.

Conclusion
The Inspector concluded that the condition is not reasonable or necessary in the interests of addressing climate change and achieving sustainable development. Condition 11 was subsequently removed and the appeal succeeded.

Download Decision here.

9. 5-year housing supply shortfall lead to successful Appeal for 100 dwellings.

Appeal Ref: APP/U3935/W/17/3192234 Appeal Decision Date: 18th October 2018
Appellant: Ainscough Strategic Land Limited
Council: Swindon Borough Council

Background
An appeal was made by Ainscough Strategic Land Limited against the decision of Swindon Borough Council to refuse “outline planning application (with means of access off Ermin Street/Blunsdon Hill not reserved) for the demolition of the existing Hill Cottage for the development of approximately 100 dwellings (Use Class C3), on-site recreational space, landscaping and associated road and drainage infrastructure.”.

In allowing the appeal, the Inspector considered the following main issues:

  • The relationship of the proposal to the development plan for the area;
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area;
  • Whether the location of the site is such that the need to travel would be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes maximised;
  • Whether the proposal makes appropriate provision for affordable housing, infrastructure and similar matters; and
  • Whether there are any other material considerations, including the housing land supply situation and benefits of the proposals, which would indicate that the proposals should be determined otherwise than in accordance with the terms of the development plan

Development plan for the area
In summary, Policy SD2 of the Local Plan notes that development in rural and in countryside locations outside of rural settlement boundaries will be permitted if it is in accordance with the other policies in the Local Plan which permitted specific development in the countryside. No other policies were identified to justify why development outside a settlement boundary should be permitted. Therefore, for the purposes of assessing the proposal against the terms of the development plan, as the proposal lies in the countryside it would be contrary to this part of Policy SD2 of the Local Plan.

It was considered common ground that the Council cannot demonstrate a five-year land supply and that relevant policies were therefore out of date. Although the appeal site lies outside the settlement boundary of Broad Blunsdon the Council conceded that it considered that this, of itself, was not a reason to dismiss the appeal due to the land supply position.

Character and Appearance
The Site lies within Upper Thames Clay Vale National Character Area. The Inspector identified the proposals would result in a landscape harm rather than heritage harm. As the Site has a reasonable separation distance from Lower Blunsdon and the Conservation Area, it would therefore be preserved.

In terms of harm to the landscape and visual qualities of the area, it would be contrary to Policy EN5 of the Local Plan.  It would also be contrary to Policy SD1 of the Local Plan in that it would not respect, conserve or enhance the natural environment and the unavoidable impacts would not be wholly mitigated as such would be contrary to paragraph 170 of the Framework

Overall, it was concluded that the Site would be harmful to the landscape and would have harmful visual effects.  The impacts however would be limited and would be mitigated to some extent, but not wholly, by the additional planting that would form part of this development.

Accessible location
The Site was not considered as being well related for the use of non-car modes, however is not poorly located given the proximity to the main built up area of Swindon.

Due to the location of the Site, the need for travel will not be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes maximised when compared with sites with better access for non-car modes. This is contrary to Policy TR2 and to paragraph 103 of the Framework as there would not be a genuine choice of transport modes.  This weighs against the development, but as there are alternatives that may be used by residents which gives some choice, although less likely than not, this was given limited weight.

Affordable housing
Policy HA2 of the Local Plan indicates that all developments of 15 homes or more should provide 30% of the dwellings as affordable housing.  The Planning Obligation provides this proportion and would thus complies with development plan policy.  However, the proposal would only provide 9% of the dwellings for affordable home ownership rather than the 10% set out in paragraph 64 of the Framework. Significant weight was attached to the provision of AH.

5YHLS
The appellants and the Council set out various figures as to the land supply that could be demonstrated, given an agreed base date of 1 April 2017.  These varied from between 1.9 years and 2.1 years for the appellants and 2.5 years and 2.7 years for the Council depending on the varying analyses of deliverability and the appropriate buffer. The inspector decided that which ever the figure, the shortfall is significant.

Conclusion
In bringing all the above together in the final balance, the Inspector considered that the adverse impacts of the development would not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The Inspector attached significant weight to the fact that the Site fell outside of the development boundary. Furthermore, the proposals would have harmful visual effect on Broad Blunsdon and would result in the loss of a golf course and community facility – these were all given limited weight. The inspector highlighted that there are significant benefits of the proposal from the provision of the additional dwellings both themselves and through the provision of affordable housing.

The 5YHLS was considered a serious matter which resulted in the Policies for the supply of housing in the development plan to be considered to be out-of-date. The factors above provide the material considerations to grant planning permission other than in accordance with the development plan.

Based on the above, the appeal was allowed.
Download Decision here

10. Improvements to affordable housing leads to approval by Secretary of State

Appeal Ref: APPJ2210/W/15/3141444 Appeal Decision Date: 6th August 2018
Appellant: Hollamby Estates Ltd
Respondent: Canterbury City Council

 Background
An appeal was made by Hollamby Estates against the non determination of a hybrid application by Canterbury City Council.

The hybrid application sought in detail the demolition of existing dwelling house in conservation area and two other dwellings, change of use of lagoon to allotments, ecological habitat and footpath link and improvements along Bullockstone Road. The outline elements were related to provision of 800 dwellings commercial and community development with pedestrian and cycle links, drainage sustainable drainage and open space as well as highways infrastructure.

The Council confirmed on 1st March that they would have refused the application for seven reasons comprising severe adverse impact on the highway, inadequate and unsafe works, absence of planning obligations to mitigate the impacts on the local highway network, failure to justify the 4% affordable housing provision, failure to demonstrate an acceptable impact on air quality, conflict with the Habitat Regulations and non-compliance with the development plan.

The appeal was recovered by the secretary of State on the 27th June 2016 on the basis that the appeal involves proposals for residential development of over 150 units or on sites of over 5 hectares.

The inquiry was held in January and April 2017 with the inquiry closed in writing on the 31st July 2017.

The site is subject to EIA with an ES submitted with the application in 2015. In March 2017, three addendums were submitted and in May 2017 the EIA regulations 2017 came into force. Regulation 76 of the EIA regulations allow for transitional arrangements which the inspector considered this site would fall within.

The main areas of concern were affordable housing and highways impacts. In March 2016, the appellants submitted a varied highways improvement scheme which was granted permission in April 2017.

On the matter of affordable housing the application proposed 4% affordable housing, which was contrary to the emerging 30% requirement. At the start of the inquiry, the appellant proposed an increase of affordable housing to 15% with a split of 30% rent and 70% shared ownership. This was contrary to policy which required 70% rent and 30% shared ownership.

The matters as agreed were:

  • The Kent BRIS would provide an appropriate technical solution to the requirement to improve Bullockstone Road
  • Air Quality. The ES Addendum No 2 included further assessment using updated traffic data flow.
  • The appellant agreed that the requested contribution towards strategic access management at the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay SPA would be met in full.
  • The appellant agreed to provide obligations to secure additional secondary education capacity
  • All parties agreed that using the Liverpool method of calculating 5 year supply, there is a surplus of land whereas there is a deficit using the Sedgefield approach.
  • There were no outstanding technical highways and transportation issues that would prevent a grant of outline permission. However there was disagreement regarding the timing of completion of the Spine Road which KCC contended should be completed and available for use prior to the completion of the 410th

The main matters in dispute were development viability and affordable housing.

In January 2018, a revised viability assessment was submitted showing that 30% affordable housing could be provided with a 30% rent and 70% shared ownership mix. The tenure remained unacceptable.

In March 2018, the secretary of state wrote to the appellants confirming that the main issue was meeting local housing needs and that the scheme was not in accordance with Policy SP3, that the proposal would not deliver the Herne Relief Road at the appropriate time, the proposed land use content would not meet the primary objective for the SSA, there would be a net gain in biodiversity/nature conservation, the loss of some 15ha of BMV land does not weight significantly against the development, there would be less than substantial harm to the Herne Conservation Area.

The Secretary of State advised that before making his final decision he would give the appellants six weeks to address the concerns on affordable housing and highways via submission of a revised and agreed planning conditions.

The appellants confirmed that a bi-lateral agreement between all parties addresses affordable housing provision and a unilateral undertaking with Kent County council secures developer contributions towards the Kent Bullockstone Road Improvement Scheme.

Based on the above, the appeal was subsequently allowed by the secretary of State.

Download Decision here.

 

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Here’s what you need to know about viability in the revised NPPG

 

Viability is not dealt within the NPPF, it is dealt with separately in the NPPG.
The draft NPPF stated that “where proposals for development accord with all the relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan, no viability assessment should be required to accompany the application”. The revised 2018 Framework removes this measure and states at paragraph 57: “Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage”

Viability should be Assessed at Plan Making Stage.
Previously discussions and considerations of viability were undertaken at the decision-making stage which may have led to delays and local authorities not securing the level of affordable housing and infrastructure they required.

The responsibility has now shifted towards local authorities to undertake viability earlier in the process to ensure that they set appropriate levels of infrastructure requirements. This will require greater co-operation between landowners, developers and local authorities to undertake meaningful discussions and agree what is considered viable. At decision making stage, where matters have already been agreed there may be less delays in agreeing matters of viability which wont slow down the determination of applications.

Costs and Requirements for Affordable Housing and Infrastructure Should be Set At A Level That Does Not Require Further Assessment At Decision Making Stage.
There may need to be more negotiation between landowners, developers and local authorities earlier in the plan making process to ensure that requirements for affordable housing and infrastructure are set at a level that does not undermine overall delivery of the site.

The Council may set out within their plans when a viability assessment may be required.
The PPG sets out that viability should be addressed at plan making stage, but states that local authorities can set out when viability assessments may be required to support planning applications.

The Price Paid for Land is not a Justification for Failing to Accord With the Relevant Policies in a Development Plan.
This played out in Parkhurst Road Limited v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Islington. Case No: CO/3528/2017. We discuss this below:

Parkhurst Road Limited v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Islington
The key consideration within the High Court was the price paid by the developers and the approach taken to assessing viability to justify the minimal amount of affordable housing. The appellants and the Council disagreed on the benchmark land value as the appellants used the purchase price as an acquisition cost leading to profit levels being below normal target values.

Islington disagreed with this using the same methodology excluding the site acquisition cost. The Council carried out a series of residual valuations inputting alternative affordable housing proportions of 50%, 40% and 32% which produced residual land valuations for the site of £4.98m, £7.32m and £9.35m respectively. They contended that the price which Parkhurst Road Ltd had paid for the site was excessive since it did not properly reflect the policy requirement to maximise the affordable housing component.

The viability assessment of the site has never been made public, but it is of direct relevance as its part of the weight applied to the development proposals.

When reading Justice Holgate’s decision, there are criticisms of the wider approach taken to viability:
“where an applicant seeking planning permission for residential development in Islington proposes that the “maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing” is lower than the borough-wide 50% target on viability grounds, it is his responsibility to demonstrate that that is so

Justice Holgate also recognised the inherent tension between decision makers and developers stating that:
“According to the basic principles set out in the NPPF and the NPPG, it is understandable why a decision-maker may, as a matter of judgment, attach little or no weight to a developer’s analysis which claims to show a “market norm” for BLV by doing little more than averaging land values obtained from a large number of transactions within a district…

…On the other hand, it is understandable why developers and landowners may argue against local policy statements that BLV should simply conform to an “EUV plus a percentage” basis of valuation, especially where the document has not been subjected to independent statutory examination prior to adoption. Some adherents appear to be promoting a formulaic application of “EUV plus.”

Justice Holgate suggests that RICS could consider revisiting the 2012 Guidance Note, perhaps in conjunction with MHCLG and the RTPI, to address any misunderstandings about market valuation concepts and techniques to address the “circularity” issue and any other problems encountered in practice over the last 6 years, to help avoid protracted disputes.

The Guidance Removes Flexibility in Considering Policy Requirements
The previous Guidance stated that ‘where the viability of a development is in question, local planning authorities should look to be flexible in applying policy requirements wherever possible.

This hard-line approach allows decision makers to decide an application on whether it achieves the full policy requirements or not.

A Standard Approach to Viability where Previously it was Accepted there was no Standard Answer to Viability
Again the flexible approach to viability has been removed in favour of a standard approach to be taken across all sites. The intention is probably to speed up delivery as all matters will be assessed, although the same approach cannot be used for different site characteristics such as brownfield and greenfield sites. If the standardised approach doesn’t work for a site, the Council may have to look at alternatives until one fits the approach.

Land Value Calculated on Existing Use Value plus a Premium
The Guidance sets out the approach to be taken to Benchmark Land Value, again to give decision makers more support in assessing development viability.

Premium is described in broad terms as the minimum price a rational landowner would be willing to sell their land, although there is likely to be further debate over what a premium should be and this debate is likely to delay the overall Local Plan process. .

A Return of 15-20% of Gross Development Value
The Draft PPG referred to 20 per cent return which has been the accepted level of return.

The PPG states that a lower figure:
may be more appropriate in consideration of delivery of affordable housing in circumstances where this guarantees an end sale at a known value and reduces the risk

Viability Assessments to be Publicly Available.
A Viability Assessment will only be kept confidential in exceptional circumstances, and it will be down to the applicant to justify the case for confidentiality. Within the Parkhurst case, the decision refers to the Viability Assessment never being provided.

Conclusions
The revised approach to viability whilst potentially aiming to speed up the decision making process, may have the unintended consequences of delaying the plan making process as Local Authorities, developers and landowners grapple with the revised approach to infrastructure costs and negotiate the best scenarios for all parties.

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12 things you need to know about the Revised NPPF

 

As you may be aware, the government published the revised National Planning Policy Framework on 24th July 2018. This means that the NPPF 2018 is a material consideration in determining planning applications. If you have not had a chance to read the document, you can download the NPPF 2018 here. We have analysed the changes made since the draft was consulted upon in Spring and here are 12 things you need to know:

  • Implementation
  • Viability
  • Design standards
  • Green Belt
  • Housing delivery test
  • Standardised method of calculating housing need
  • Inclusion of social rent in definition of affordable housing
  • Small sites
  • Neighbourhood development plans
  • Voluntary PPAs
  • Storage and distribution operations
  • Ancient Woodland and veteran trees

Implementation
NPPF 2018 is now a material consideration which means that the policies come into effect straight away. However, the NPPF 2018 states that, Local Plans submitted before 24 January 2018 will be Examined against the 2012 NPPF. Any Plans submitted after this date will be examined under the new 2018 policies. This could mean that part of a Council’s newly prepared Plan could be immediately out of date which may contribute to penalties/interventions.

Viability
There is a significant shift in the role of viability assessments. The 2018 Framework now requires viability to be dealt with at the plan making stage, thus shifting responsibility on LPAs as opposed to developers. Essentially, LPAs will now be required to set strategic site allocations, infrastructure requirements and a minimum level of affordable housing which they consider viable. The draft NPPF stated  that “where proposals for development accord with all the relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan, no viability assessment should be required to accompany the application”. The revised 2018 Framework removes this measure and states at paragraph 57: “Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage”. This provides decision makers more power in deciding whether a viability assessment is required.

Design Standards
The 2018 Framework places emphasis on the importance of design standards and contains requirements that planning policies set out clear design and vision expectations in SPDs and design codes. It states that “being clear about design expectations, and how these will be tested, is essential for achieving this. So too is effective engagement between applicants, communities, local planning authorities and other interests throughout the process…” Councils should try to “ensure that the quality of approved development is not materially diminished between permission and completion, as a result of changes being made to the permitted scheme”. The policies should however be flexible and allow variety, however, as with design there may be an element of subjectivity.

Green Belt
The draft Framework published in March 2018 stated that “once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or updating of plans.” The 2018 Framework however requires greenbelt reviews to be ‘fully evidenced and justified’. Paragraph 136 of the 2018 Framework states that “Once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, through the preparation or updating of plans“. LPA are required to fully examine all reasonable options to meet its identified need for development. However, this amendment appears to tighten the already restrictive Green Belt release policy.

Housing Delivery Test
No significant amendments have been made to the government’s new Housing Delivery Test. Where delivery is below 75% of the housing requirement from 2020, the Government intends to apply the presumption in favour of sustainable development

Standardised Method of Calculating Housing Need
The 2018 Framework implements a standard methodology for assessing housing need. This method is intended to simplify Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) calculations to provide a centrally-based figure. This is done by taking the Government’s household growth projections and applying an affordability ratio, and comparing local house prices with workplace earnings to identify a need figure. The 2018 Framework states that “strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas , unless the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area… ; or  any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole”. This strengthens the requirement for LPAs to cooperate with each other in meeting unmet housing requirements.

Social Rent in Definition of Affordable Housing
The term which had been omitted from March’s draft version prompting concerns from some sector bodies has now been reinstated.

Small Sites
The policy encouraging the use of small sites has now been altered to include sites of up to 1ha and medium sized sites. Development plans are now required to identify land to accommodate at least 10% of housing requirement on small sites.

Neighbourhood Development Plans
Paragraph 14 of the 2018 Framework states that presumption in favour of sustainable would apply in the absence of an up to date plan – however by allowing housing schemes that conflict with NDP it is likely to “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits“. It is suggested that where a plan has been adopted two years or less before the decision, it contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement. As such, the LPA would have at least a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites against its five-year requirement.

Voluntary PPAs
Paragraph 46 of the 2018 Framework states that Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) are likely to be needed for applications which are large or complex to determine. The suggestion of potential of voluntary PPAs were excluded from the March draft NPPF.

Storage and distribution operations
Paragraph 82 of the 2018 Framework refers to the provision for storage and distribution operations “at a variety of scales and in suitably accessible locations“. This provision requires the specific locational requirements of storage operations to be recognised in planning policies and decisions.  This was omitted from the March 2018 draft.

Ancient Woodland and veteran trees
Paragraph 175(c) offers protection to woodland and ancient veteran trees. It states that development which result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland and veteran trees should be refused unless there are exceptional reasons and mitigation in place. Veteran trees in the ancient woodland were excluded from the definition of ‘irreplaceable habitat’ in the draft Framework published in March 2018.

What do we think about the NPPF?
As highlighted in James Brockenshire’s Written Ministerial Statement, 85 of the proposals set out in the housing white paper and the Budget, are implemented in the new National Planning Policy Framework. The new rules require greater responsibility, transparency and accountability from both LPAs and developers. The amendments to Viability Assessments are ambitious and only time will how successful this approach will be. We are also disappointed to see the amendment to the already restrictive Green Belt Release Policy appears being tightened. The Housing Crisis is multifaceted in nature, exacerbated by other factors such as the shortage of construction workers, reduced LPA powers, a lack of transparency, increased demand brought on by decades of deregulation, and lax policies – the revisions to the NPPF alone cannot solve the Housing Crisis and therefore, other central government reforms will be necessary.

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Local Plan Updates and Progression August 2018

 

Local Plan Updates – Tracking and Progression

We have been tracking and following the progress of Local Plans in the different regions of England.

A Local Plan sets out planning policies and identifies how land is used – determining what will be built where. We’ve developed this Local Plan Schedule which we hope will keep you up to date on what Local Authorities are doing on their Plans and if you have any questions contact us today.

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Urbanissta’s Legal Beagle is on the Case – April 18

 

Welcome to the Urbanissta Legal Beagle’s case work reviews – we’re still tracking decisions to see what useful precedents have been set in judgements and decisions that might be useful to you, day to day.

Our summary of recent decisions is below and via the links you can download more details of the full decision letters should you wish.

As you may be aware, Mid Sussex District Council have now adopted their new Local Plan (28th March 2018) and interestingly, prior to adoption, 5 appeals were decided by the Secretary of State; 4 of which were granted permission.  We provide a summary of these in this month’s edition so it’s a bit of a Mid Sussex special edition, but we have lots of other interesting cases for you to review too, so we hope the following is informative!

Furthermore, our guest barrister, Giles Atkinson of 6 Pump Court provides commentaries on three recent decisions; Dover DC v CPRE (Kent); Braintree DC v SoS for CLG; and Samuel Smith v North Yorkshire CC.

 

 

 

 

Here are 10 recent planning appeals, giving you insights into the latest precedents:

1. Reasons for Planning Approvals

Ref: [2017] UKSC 79
Appeal Decision Date: 06 December 2017
Appellant: Dover DC
Respondent: CPRE Kent

Readers will remember that I have previously summarised the case of Oakley v South Cambs DC[1] in which the circumstances under which an LPA may be expected to give reasons for granting permission were examined.  The matter has now been definitively determined by the Supreme Court, in Dover DC v CPRE (Kent)[2].

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, endorsed the Court of Appeal’s approach in Oakley establishing a common law duty to give reasons in certain circumstances.

The application in the Dover case was for a major development including over 500 houses, a conference centre, hotel and museum, partly on AONB.  The officer recommendation was for approval for an amended, reduced, development of 365 houses, the reduction intended to protect a particularly vulnerable part of the site from landscape harm.  The applicants objected to the reduction essentially arguing that it would render the scheme unviable but the officer recommendation remained to approve the lesser number.

The committee members however, voted to approve the scheme as applied for with over 500 houses.

In due course, following negotiations about the section 106 agreement, the decision notice was issued without any statement of the reasons for grant.

The question of reasons was raised in challenges to the grant of permission, eventually finding its way to the Supreme Court which indicated that it wished to consider generally the sources, nature and extent of an LPA’s duty to give reasons for the grant of planning permission.

The SC considers first the statutory sources of a duty to give reasons, noting that LPAs are no longer required to give reasons for grants of permission as they were for a period under the GPDO[3], although there is still a general duty on local authority officers making a decision involving the ‘grant of a permission or licence’, which includes the grant of planning permission[4] and for EIA development (which the development in the Dover case was) and under the Aarhus Convention.

The standard of reasons was then considered by the SC, finding essentially that what is needed is an adequate explanation of the ultimate decision, the essence of the duty being whether the information provided by the LPA leaves room for genuine doubt as to what it has decided and why.

Importantly the SC found that the remedy for a breach of the duty to give reasons, which in the Dover case it was accepted had occurred there being a breach of the duty imposed by the proposals being EIA development, was the quashing of the decision rather than just, as had been argued, the retrospective provision of reasons.

Although it didn’t need to be determined in the Dover case because it was accepted that reasons should have been provided under the EIA legislation, the SC went on to consider the common law duty to give reasons and this is probably the part of the decision of widest application and therefore of greatest interest.

The SC endorsed the finding of the CA in Oakley, where particular circumstances gave rise to a common law duty to give reasons for the grant of planning permission based, essentially, on fairness, itself a common law principle.

Without wishing to be over-prescriptive the SC helpfully set out the circumstances in which the common law duty to give reasons arises:

 “However, it should not be difficult for councils and their officers to identify cases which call for a formulated statement of reasons, beyond the statutory requirements.  Typically they will be cases where, as in Oakley and the present case, permission has been granted in the face of substantial public opposition and against the advice of officers, for projects which involve major departures from the development plan, or from other policies of recognised importance (such as the ‘specific policies identified in the NPPF…).  Such decision call for public explanation, not just because of their immediate impact, but also because…they are likely to have lasting relevance for the application of policy in future cases.”

 So, for cases where there is a great deal of public opposition and a member overturn, development is a major departure from the DP or contrary to polices of recognised importance, including those specified at FN 9 of NPPF14[5], LPAs may now be expected to provide reasons for the grant of planning permission.  If they are found to have failed in this duty, the remedy is to quash the decision.

This decision amounts to an important new requirement placed upon LPAs which might be expected to arise not infrequently.

[1] [2017] EWCA Civ 71

[2] Dover Dc v CPRE (Kent) CPRE (Kent) v China Gateway International Limited [2017] UKSC 79

[3] Between 2003 and 2013.  GPDO now replaced with the DMPO.

[4] This under the little known Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, SI 2014/2095

[5] FN 9 of NPPF14 is now (in the March 2018 consultation draft of the replacement NPPF) FN 7 of paragraph 11.

Download the decision here.

2. New Isolated Homes in Countryside

Case No: CO/1207/2017
Appeal Decision Date: 15 November 2017
Appellant: Braintree DC
Respondent: Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The interpretation of this phrase, from NPPF 55, was considered by the CA recently in Braintree DC v SoS for CLG[1].  Paragraph 55 is as follows:

“55. To promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities. For example, where there are groups of smaller settlements, development in one village may support services in a village nearby. Local planning authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances such as:

  • the essential need for a rural worker to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside; or
  • where such development would represent the optimal viable use of a heritage asset or would be appropriate enabling development to secure the future of heritage assets; or
  • where the development would re-use redundant or disused buildings and lead to an enhancement to the immediate setting; or
  • the exceptional quality or innovative nature of the design of the dwelling. Such a design should: be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas; reflect the highest standards in architecture; – significantly enhance its immediate setting; and – be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.”

An inspector, in combined section 78 and section 174 appeals on the same site, had granted permission for 2 single storey dwellings and quashed an EN alleging, amongst other things, the partial erection of a single storey building (one of the dwellings).  The site lay close to but outside the settlement boundary of the village of Blackmore End.

The Inspector had noted in respect of the development:

 “It would not accord with the development plan’s approach of concentrating development in towns and in village envelopes.  On the other hand there are a number of dwellings nearby and the development would not result in new isolated homes in the countryside to which Framework paragraph 55 refers.”

The Inspector went on to observe that there was a very limited range of facilities in the village of Blackmore End and that the occupiers of the dwellings were likely to rely heavily on the private car to access facilities further afield.

The Council challenged the Inspector’s decision and argued unsuccessfully in the High Court that paragraph 55 NPPF was concerned not literally with the proximity of a proposed dwelling to other residential dwellings, but rather with proximity to services and facilities so as to maintain or enhance the vitality of the rural community.

In the CA the Council adopted a slightly different argument, that in order to comply with NPPF 55 a development must be neither physically isolated relative to settlements and other developments, nor functionally isolated relative to services and facilities.

This argument was rejected in the CA; ‘isolated’ meant physically isolated from a settlement, not isolated from services and facilities.

Lindblom LJ found that the requirement for LPAs to avoid ‘new isolated homes in the countryside’ was a geographical distinction between places.  In the context of the preceding two sentences of NPPF 55, this meant a distinction between development of housing within a settlement or village, and new dwellings which would be ‘isolated’ in the sense of being separate or remote from a settlement.

In short, it was said by Lindblom LJ, settlements are the preferred location for new housing development in rural areas.  That, in effect, is what the policy says.

He went on to endorse the High Court’s finding that the word ‘isolated’ should be given its ordinary dictionary definition, so that in the context of NPPF 55 it connotes a dwelling that is physically separate or remote from a settlement.  In any particular case, this will be a matter of fact and planning judgment for the decision maker.

Similarly, what is a ‘settlement’ or ‘village’ as referred to by NPPF 55 will also be a matter of fact and planning judgment for the decision maker.  Lindblom LJ found that to qualify as a settlement or village, in the absence of any definition of these phrases, there is no specified minimum number of dwellings or population required; a settlement boundary does not have to have been fixed in the local plan; nor does there have to be any specified services, or indeed any services.

The Judgment of Lindblom concludes that this ‘common sense’, ‘literal and natural construction’ of NPPF 55 is in accordance with the broader context of policies for sustainable development in the Framework as a whole.  By seeking to maintain and enhance the ‘vitality’ of rural communities through the location of housing, as para 55 does, is a policy which embraces the social dimension of sustainable development, and to restrict the concept of ‘isolated homes’ to meaning isolated from services (as was argued by the Council) would be to deny this policy’s support for dwellings which did contribute to social sustainability.

It should be noted finally, that paragraph 55 of the NPPF is currently (in the consultation draft March 2018) proposed to be replaced with paragraphs 80 and 81 which are in substantially, but not exactly, the same terms.

[1] [2018] EWCA Civ 610

Download the decision here.

3. Visual Impact and Openness of the Greenbelt

Case No: C1/2017/0829
Appeal Decision Date: 16 March 2018
Appellant: Samuel Smith Old Brewery
Respondent: North Yorkshire County Council

In Samuel Smith v North Yorkshire CC[1] the CA have confirmed Turner[2], itself quite a recent CA decision, to the effect that visual impact is potentially relevant to the consideration of the effect of a development on the openness of the Green Belt.

The development at issue in Samuel Smith was an extension of a limestone quarry over approximately 6 hectares in the West Yorkshire Green Belt south west of Tadcaster. The LPA (North Yorks) granted permission and a JR challenge was unsuccessful but permission to appeal to the CA was granted.

In her report to committee the officer determined that the proposed development preserves the openness of the GB and did not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. She noted that openness is not defined but is commonly taken to be the absence of built development, and that because the application site immediately abuts the existing quarry, it would not introduce development into the area so as to conflict with the aims of preserving the openness of the Green Belt.

Overall, she recommended approval of the proposals which she found did not materially harm the character and openness of the GB.

The claimants’ challenge was based on a misdirection about para 90 NPPF.  Paragraphs 87-90 are as follows:

“87. As with previous Green Belt policy, inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.

 When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. ‘Very special circumstances’ will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

  1. A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt. Exceptions to this are:
  • buildings for agriculture and forestry;
  • provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries, as long as it preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it;
  • the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;
  • the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;
  • limited infilling in villages, and limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the Local Plan; or
  • limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.
  1. Certain other forms of development are also not inappropriate in Green Belt provided they preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in Green Belt. These are:
  • mineral extraction;
  • engineering operations;
  • local transport infrastructure which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location;
  • the re-use of buildings provided that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction; and
  • development brought forward under a Community Right to Build Order.”

Inappropriate development may only be approved if there are VSCs (NPPF 87).  A quarry is capable of not being inappropriate development provided it preserves the openness of the GB (NPPF 90).

It was said by way of challenge, essentially, that by failing to refer specifically to the visual impact of the proposed development on openness, the officer had misdirected the committee so that it approached its decision, wrongly, on the basis that the proposal was not for inappropriate development in the GB and did not have to be justified by VSCs.

Members, guided by the officer advice, assumed that the effect of the development on the visual openness of the GB was not and could not be a relevant consideration in establishing whether the proposal was for inappropriate development; plainly relevant, it was said, in the context of a 6 hectare extension of a quarry.  Had the visual impacts been considered the only conclusion of the committee would have been that the development would not preserve the openness of the GB, would therefore be inappropriate and would therefore have had to be justified by VSCs.

The CA accepted these arguments.  Lindblom LJ giving the leading judgment, notes that NPPF 90 sets out 5 forms of categories, all subject to the proviso that they preserve the openness of the GB and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it.  Whilst openness is not defined he agreed with the finding of Turner that the word must take its meaning from the specific context in which it falls to be applied and that different factors are capable of being relevant to the concept when applied to the particular facts of a case; visual impact as well as spatial impact is implicitly a part of openness.

He went on:
“38 As a general proposition, however, it seems to me that the policy in paragraph 90 makes it necessary to consider whether the effect of a particular development on the openness of the Green Belt can properly be gauged merely by its two-dimensional or three-dimensional presence on the site in question – the very fact of its being there – without taking into account the effects it will have on the openness of the Green Belt in the eyes of the viewer. To exclude visual impact, as a matter of principle, from a consideration of the likely effects of development on the openness of the Green Belt would be artificial and unrealistic. The policy in paragraph 90 does not do that. A realistic assessment will often have to include the likely perceived effects on openness, if any, as well as the spatial effects. Whether, in the individual circumstances of a particular case, there are likely to be visual as well as spatial effects on the openness of the Green Belt, and, if so, whether those effects are likely to be harmful or benign, will be for the decision-maker to judge. But the need for those judgments to be exercised is, in my view, inherent in the policy.”

This paragraph provides a useful resume of the distinction between the spatial impact (the simple presence of something on land) and its visual impact, and the reality that the two are often closely related.

In the Samuel Smiths case the Court found that the Council had fallen into error by not considering whether it was likely the development proposed would have a visual impact nor how those visual impacts would bear on the question of whether the development would ‘preserve the openness of the GB’.  The officer’s observation that openness is ‘commonly taken to be the absence of built development’ appeared to lead the assessment away from visual impact and narrow it down to consideration of spatial impact alone.

This decision confirms the CA’s finding in Turner which was itself notable for disproving the decision in a case called Timmins[3] which had stated a clear conceptual distinction between openness and visual impact, such that it was wrong in principle to reach a conclusion on openness by reference to visual impact.  As should be clear now that distinction is incorrect and visual impact is potentially relevant and potentially significant in reaching decisions about openness of the GB.

[1] Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) and Oxton Farm v North Yorkshire CC and Darrington Quarries Led [2018] EWCA Civ 489

[2] Turner v SoS for CLG [2017] 2 P.&C.R.1

[3] Timmins and Another v Gedling BC [2014] EWHC 654 (Admin)

Download the decision here

4Under supply of housing leads to two applications being allowed by SoS – Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/V/16/3149579 & APP/D3830/W/16//3145499
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Wates Development Limited
Council: Mid Sussex District Council

Application A (ref: DM/15/3979) was dealt with in pursuance of Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Direction). The appeal (DM/15/3614) was recovered by the Secretary of State (SoS) in pursuance of Section 79 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
An appeal was made by Wates Development Limited against the decision to refuse planning permission for:

Application A: Outline consent for 30 dwellings, of which 30% will be affordable, with only access to be determined at this stage, with landscaping, open space and car parking, in accordance with application ref: DM/15/3979, dated 5 October 2015; and

Appeal: Outline consent for 44 dwellings, of which 30% will be affordable, with only access to be determined at this stage, landscaping, open space and car parking, in accordance with application DM/15/3614, dated 7 September 2015

In allowing the appeal and granting permission for both applications the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Five-year land supply
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area
  • The effect on the areas of ancient woodland
  • Potential coalescence with nearby settlements
  • Housing mix
  • Safety and convenience of users to adjacent highway network

Five-year Land Supply
Limited weight was given to Mid Sussex Local Plan 2004 (MSLP 2004) Policies C1 and C2 as the Council was unable to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply. It was considered that the relevant housing policies conflicted with the aims and objectives of the Framework were therefore not up-to-date. The Crawley Down Neighbourhood Plan (CDNP) Policy CDNP05 and CDNP08 were also not considered up to date, as such, they were given moderate weight. The emerging MSDP was only be given limited weight.

Effect on the Character and Appearance of the Area
Both applications lie immediately west of existing residential development on Turners Hill Road with the eastern part of the northern boundary adjoining the new Wychwood residential area. It was considered that although the development would result in adverse changes to the character and appearance of the application site itself, the impacts on the character of the wider landscape would not be significant. There are no public viewpoints from the north and views from the eastern side of Bushy Wood would not harmfully impact on the proposed development especially once the proposed buffer planting on the western boundary has matured.

Effect on the Areas of Ancient Woodland
Both application sites adjoin areas of ancient woodland, with Pescotts Wood to the north and Kiln Wood to the south. A 15m wide buffer zone was proposed. With the proposed buffers and appropriate planning conditions, the Council were satisfied with the proposals. The Parish Council argued that the buffers should be increased to 30m wide, however, provided no evidence to justify this request. It was considered that there would be no conflict with development plan policies and the Framework guidance in terms of impact on the areas of ancient woodland.

Potential Coalescence with Nearby Settlements
It was considered that neither of the schemes under consideration would result in any real or perceived coalescence of Crawley Down with any neighbouring settlement. Policy CDNP08 of the CDNP seeks to prevent coalescence by not permitting development outside of the village boundary unless 3 criteria are met. The first being that the development should not detract from the openness and character of the landscape – neither applications were seen to conflict with this criterion. In respect of criterion b, the applications were not seen to contribute to “ribbon development. In terms of criterion c, the Parish Council argued that the proposals would reduce gaps neighbouring settlements. It was concluded that, none of the application proposals would result in any real or perceived coalescence of Crawley Down with any neighbouring settlement.

 Housing Mix
The affordable housing mix proposed for each scheme is set out within the S106 agreements and fall short of the 80% figure for 2-3 bedroom units, however the Inspector considered it to be acceptably close and the mix was acceptable to the Councils Housing Officer.  It was concluded thatthe mix would perform satisfactorily when assessed against the requirements of paragraph 50 of the Framework, and all would be capable of delivering an appropriate and acceptable mix of market and affordable housing”.

Highways
The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that, “subject to the imposition of his proposed conditions and the provisions of the S106 Agreements, neither of the two schemes under consideration would have any unacceptable impacts on the safety or convenience of the user of the adjacent highway network and thus no material conflict with MSLP Policy T4 or CDNP Policy CDNP10”

Conclusion
In the absence of a 5-year supply, 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.

Based on the above, the both the appeal and called in application were granted permission.

Download Decision here.

5. Under Supply of Housing leads to Two Applications Allowed by SoS – Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/V/16/3149575 & APP/D3830/V/16/3161086
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Gleeson Development Limited
Council: Mid Sussex District Council

 In pursuance of Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 application B (ref: DM/15/4094) and application C (ref DM/16/233) were referred to the SoS.

Background
An appeal was made by Gleeson Development Limited against the decision to refuse planning permission for:

Application B: outline consent for up to 60 dwellings, of which up to 30% will be affordable, with only the principle means of access to be determined at this stage, along with associated landscaping, open space and car parking, in accordance with application ref: DM/15/4094, dated 9 October 2015; and

Application C: outline consent for up to 30 dwellings, of which up to 30% will be affordable, with only the principle means of access to be determined at this stage, along with associated landscaping, open space and car parking, in accordance with application DM/16/2330, dated 27 May 2016.

In granting permission for both applications the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Five-year land supply
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area
  • The effect on the areas of ancient woodland
  • Potential coalescence with nearby settlements
  • Housing mix
  • Safety and convenience of users to adjacent highway network

Five-year Land Supply
Limited weight was given to Mid Sussex Local Plan 2004 (MSLP 2004) Policies C1 and C2 as the Council was unable to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply. It was considered that the relevant housing policies conflicted with the aims and objectives of the Framework were therefore not up-to-date. The Crawley Down Neighbourhood Plan (CDNP) Policy CDNP05 and CDNP08 were also not considered up to date, as such, they were given moderate weight. The emerging MSDP was only be given limited weight at this stage.

Effect on the Character and Appearance of the Area
In the Council’s SHLAA the Site was assessed as unsuitable for residential development. The Site was seen to have a distinct rural character with a lack of defensible boundary to the east and south. When assessed against CDNP Policy CDN05, the development was seen to harm the character of the area and would detract from the openness and character of the landscape. It was acknowledged that this was an inevitable consequence of developing any greenfield site and not always unacceptable in the overall planning balance. It was concluded the proposed densities would be acceptable. No firm, specific evidence was put before the Inspector to demonstrate what harm would arise from the Gleeson 60 scheme. In light of this, there was no unacceptable conflict with criteria (a) or (b) of CDNP Policy CDNP05 or the first criterion of CDNP05.

Effect on the areas of Ancient Woodland
Both application sites adjoin areas of ancient woodland, with Burleigh Wood to the west and Rushetts Wood to the east. A 15m wide buffer zone was proposed. With the proposed buffers and appropriate planning conditions, the Council were satisfied with the proposals. The submitted ecology statement confirmed that the proposals would not result in the loss of any ancient woodland habitats, nor the loss of any trees or woodland. It was considered that there would be no conflict with development plan policies and the Framework guidance in terms of impact on the areas of ancient woodland.

Potential Coalescence with Nearby Settlements
It was considered that neither of the schemes under consideration would result in any real or perceived coalescence of Crawley Down with any neighbouring settlement. The broad extent of Rushetts Wood lies generally between the Gleeson site and East Grinstead.  In these circumstances, the Inspector was not persuaded that any of the proposed developments would result in any lessening of the separate identity and amenity of Crawley Down, nor lead to any significant perception of coalescence with nearby built-up areas.  As such, found no conflict with policy C2.

 Housing Mix
The affordable housing mix proposed for each scheme is set out within the S106 agreements and fall short of the 80% figure for 2-3 bedroom units, however the Inspector considered it to be acceptably close and the mix was acceptable to the Councils Housing Officer.

Highways
The Parish Council raised concerns regarding the use of Hazel Close and Hazel Way to serve a major development. The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that, subject to the imposition of his proposed conditions and the provisions of the S106 Agreements, the schemes would not have any unacceptable impacts on the safety or convenience of the user of the adjacent highway network and thus no material conflict with MSLP Policy T4 or CDNP Policy CDNP10.

Conclusion
In the absence of a 5-year supply, 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.

Based on the above, both applications were granted permission.
Download Decision here.

6. Site Located within 4.3km from Ashdown Forest granted Permission for up to 200 dwellings – East Grinstead, Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/W/16/3142487
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Linden Limited
Council: Mid Sussex District Council

 This appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination, in pursuance of section 79 of, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
An appeal was made by Linden Limited against the decision to refuse planning permission for “for outline planning permission for up to 200 dwellings, provision of new internal access roads and footpaths, landscaping, open space, sustainable drainage system, earthworks and associated infrastructure and for full permission for the provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGS) in, accordance with application ref: DM/15/0429 dated 2 February 2015”.

In allowing the appeal, the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Supply and delivery of housing
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area
  • Effect on transport
  • Effect of biodiversity
  • Effect on historic environment

Supply and Delivery of Housing
The proposals would bring forward 140 market houses with 60 units of affordable housing. The material contribution of the provision of housing in the district was given significant weight. The scheme would also bring substantial economic and environmental benefits.

Effect on the character and appearance of the area
The Site is divided into two parcels. Parcel A lies to the south east of the railway and to the southern western edge of the built-up area of East Grinstead. Parcel B lies north west of Parcel A and is entirely in SANGS land. The Site adjoins the AONB. It was considered that Parcel A has very limited inter-visibility with the AONB and did not pass the threshold of ‘valued’ as used in the NPPF. However, Parcel B was more representative of Landscape of High Weald due to its extensive views of the ancient woodland. The Inspector concluded that the visual impacts would be localised, with the most significant visual impacts experienced by the occupiers of those houses closest to the site. Moderate impacts would be views from Turners Hill Road, Garden Wood Road and the public footpath to the south of the site. Other visual impacts were described as relatively minor.

Effect on Transport
The Council’s refusal based on highways matters was withdrawn before the enquiry. Rule 6 party however maintained their objection on highways grounds and criticised the Council for accepting a Transport Assessment (TA) which did not include an assessment on A22 junctions. The Inspector disagreed and stated that there has been a robust assessment of transport impacts. Furthermore, the appeal Site enhances opportunities for sustainable transport modes and the proposal and highways contributions would enable two key junctions to be improved. He also noted that the traffic generated by the appeal scheme would be minimal in relation to traffic passing through the junction. As such, the appeal scheme accords with paragraph 32 of the Framework.

Effect on Biodiversity
The Site is located approximately 4.3km from Ashdown Forest. The HRA concluded that the appeal scheme is not likely to have a significant effect on the Ashdown Forest SPA/SAC. The Inspector therefore considered that the proposals were unlikely to have a significant effect on Ashdown Forest SPA, SAC or SSSI and there would be no harmful effects on biodiversity in general.

 Effect on Historic Environment
The Inspector considered that there would be no direct impact on either of the Grade II listed buildings; Hill Place Farm House and Imberhorne Viaduct. The setting of Hill Place Farmhouse was seen to make very little contribution to its significance as a designated heritage asset. As the Site has already been diminished by modern agricultural buildings, the appeal scheme would not pose any harm. Furthermore, the harm to Bluebell Railways would be negligible. With respect to Inborne Viaduct, although the impact on views was considered as less than substantial, the inspector felt that the new public footpath passing close to the foot of the viaduct would be an important public benefit as it would provide excellent views – this benefit outweighed the harm.

Conclusion
The appeal scheme was seen to make a meaningful contribution to housing without significant harm to the transport network and biodiversity. Although the appeal scheme would fail to preserve the listed viaduct, the harm would be minor. In light of these material considerations, the Inspector expressed that the benefits of the scheme outweighed the impacts and recommended that the appeal is allowed which the SoS agreed.

Based on the above, the appeal was allowed
Download Decision here.

7. SoS goes against Inspector’s Recommendation to Refuse Planning Permission and Grants Permission for 200- Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/W/16/3152641
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Wates Development Ltd
Council: Mid Sussex District Council

 This appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination, in pursuance of section 79 of, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
An appeal was made by Wates Development Ltd against the decision of Mid Sussex District Council to refuse “outline planning permission for 200 dwellings, a 9.54ha Country Park and land for a ½ Form Entry Primary School, together with associated access road, car parking, landscaping and open space at land south of Scamps Hill/Scaynes Hill Road, Lindfield, West Sussex, in accordance with application ref:  DM/15/4457, dated 4 November 2015.”.

In allowing the appeal, the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Character and Appearance
  • Sustainable Development
  • Development Plan

Character and Appearance
The SoS agreed with the Inspector that although there would be harm to the landscape due to residential development, this should be overcome at reserved matters stage. Furthermore, the effect of the proposals on the character and appearance of Walstead should not be a bar to development, and as such this was given limited weight.

Sustainable Development
The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector’s conclusion that the proposed scheme would recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, secure high quality and inclusive design and would not harm any valued landscape. The Secretary of State therefore gave moderate weight to these benefits.

Development Plan
As the Council holds less than a 5-year housing land supply, limited weight was given to MSLP Policy C1 and NP Policy 1. Full weight was given to LP Policy B1(a) which supports the scheme.

Conclusion
The SoS concluded that the scheme conflicted with MSLP Policies C1 and NP Policy 1 – however, the policies were seen to be inconsistent with the Framework and therefore considered as out of date. In the absence of a 5-year land supply, para 14 of the Framework indicates that permissions should be granted unless there are adverse impacts that significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The housing benefits were seen to carry substantial weight and the economic, social and environmental benefits each carry moderate weight. Due to these reasons, the SoS allowed the appeal.

Based on the above, the appeal was allowed.
Download Decision here.

8. Application of up to 130 Dwellings Refused due to Unacceptable Risk to Safety of Future Occupiers from Unmanned Railway Crossing- Hassocks, Mid Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/D3830/V/17/3166992
Appeal Decision Date: 01 March 2018
Appellant: Roydon Homes Ltd
Respondent: Mid Sussex District Council

 Pursuant to Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the application was referred to SoS instead of being dealt with by the local planning authority.

Background
The application was made by Roydon Homes Ltd for residential development of up to “130 dwellings, consisting of 12 No. 1 bed apartments, 27 No. 2 bed houses, 47 No. 3 bed houses, and associated access, together with full permission for change of use of part of the land to form country open space in accordance with application ref:  DM/15/0626, dated 13 February 2015”

In refusing the application, the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • The supply and delivery of housing in Mid Sussex
  • Effects on flood risk
  • Effects on air quality
  • Safety of future occupiers in relation to the railway crossing

Supply and Delivery
The Inspector stated that “Hassocks is the most sustainable of the District’s Category 2 settlements, and is therefore a natural location for a large part of the extra houses that will be needed.” As such, the proposed development was seen to boost the local housing supply.

Flood Risk
Part of the Site is located within flood zone 2 and 3. It was contended by the applicant that residential development will only be located in zone 1 and open space will be located in zones 2 and 3. This type of disaggregation is accepted by NPPG.

Air Quality
The proposed development was seen to not give rise to any unacceptable impacts on air quality and therefore conformed with MSLP Policy CS22, which seeks to avoid unacceptable pollution in any form.

Future Occupiers
The Inspector identified potential implications for public safety.  In the absence of any measures to improve the safety of the unmanned railway crossing, permitting the proposed development in such close proximity, it was considered as an unacceptable risk to the safety of future occupiers, contrary to the aims of NPPF paragraph 32. The SoS agreed with the Inspector’s view.

Conclusion
The SoS concluded that, “despite the benefits that would flow from the proposal, the unacceptable risk to the safety of future occupiers from the unmanned railway crossing represents a sufficiently substantial material consideration to outweigh the benefits, so that the application should be refused”.

Based on the above, the application was refused.
Download Decision here.

9. Sainsburys Development Approved for 683 Homes Allowed with 4% Affordable Housing Ilford, Redbridge

 Appeal Ref: APP/W5780/W/16/3164036
Appeal Decision Date: 14 March 2018
Appellant: Sainsburys Supermarket Ltd
Council: London Borough of Redbridge

 The appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination, in pursuance of section 79 of, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
The appeal was made by Sainsburys Supermarket Ltd against the decision of the Council of the London Borough of Redbridge (“Council”) to refuse planning permission for “demolition of existing buildings and structures and development of a replacement Sainsbury’s store (Use Class A1) of 4,745 sqm (net sales area), 951 sqm (GIA) of flexible commercial floorspace (Use Class A1/A2/A3/B1/D1) and 683 residential units (Use Class C3) arranged in 9 blocks including 2 terraces of mews and town houses.  An energy centre and plant is provided at basement and lower ground level, along with 410 retail car parking spaces and 42 residential car parking spaces. Associated highways and landscaping works, in accordance with application ref: 4499/15, dated 13 November 2015.”

In allowing the appeal, the SoS gave consideration to the following main issues:

  • Housing need
  • Density
  • Design
  • Impact on local infrastructure
  • Impact on neighbouring residents
  • Impact on future residents
  • Impact on traffic
  • Effect on the retail function
  • Effect on heritage assets
  • Affordable Housing

Conclusion
“The SoS considered that the public benefits arising from the proposals would significantly outweigh the low level of ‘less than substantial’ harm to the significance of the Grade II* listed Hospital Chapel and its associated buildings. Furthermore the adverse impacts of the proposals do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole. Overall he considered that there are therefore material considerations which indicate that the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan”

Based on the above, the application was allowed.
Download Decision here

 

10.Benefits Outweighed harm to the Green Belt by Reason of Inappropriateness and any Other Harm– Effingham, Guildford

Appeal Ref: APP/Y3615/W/16/3151098
Appeal Decision Date: 21 March 2018
Appellant: Berkley Homes
Council: Guildford Borough Council

The appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination, in pursuance of section 79 of, and paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Background
The appeal was made by Berkley Homes against the decision of Guildford Borough Council (“Council”) to refuse planning permission for “hybrid planning application for outline permission (only access to be considered) for the erection of a replacement secondary school for Howard of Effingham and up to 258 residential dwellings with means of access to Howard of Effingham School and Lodge Farm, Lower Road following demolition of all existing buildings; and full permission for the erection of 37 dwellings, with access, parking and landscape works on land at Brown’s Field, Brown’s Lane, Effingham, in accordance with application ref:  14/P/02109, dated 17 October 2014.”

In allowing the appeal, the SoS considered the following main issues:

  • Green Belt
  • Character and appearance of conservation area
  • Heritage assets
  • Ecology
  • Playing pitch
  • Housing supply

Green Belt
The Inspector and SoS agreed that the proposal would represent inappropriate development in the Green Belt as such substantial weight was attached to the harm to the openness of the Green Belt.

Character and appearance of conservation area
It was concluded that the scheme proposes limited extent of erosion of local character and the mitigating effects of the development, the harm is limited in extent, and carried medium weight

Ecology
The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that sufficient mitigation can be secured by condition to overcome concerns over ecological matters in relation to the local Site of Nature Conservation Importance and protected species. He further agreed that the legitimate concerns over the efficacy of the wildlife corridor can in good measure be addressed, and that these matters are neutral in terms of weight.

Playing pitch
The SoS agreed with the Inspector that the proposed replacement school’s facilities would result in a change to the functions of the club, the benefits on offer outweigh the loss.

Housing supply
The Council falls significantly below the 5-year housing land supply (2.1years). The Inspector attached substantial weight to the delivery of 295 dwellings with 20% affordable housing.

Conclusion
The SoS considered that the benefits outweighed harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness and any other harm, and so very special circumstances exist. The SoS concluded that there are no specific policies in the Framework that indicate that this development should be restricted and that there are material considerations which indicate that the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan.

Based on the above, the application was allowed./
Download Decision here

 

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Latest GDPO amendments to Agricultural Permitted Development Rights

 

On Monday 5th March 2018, the Housing Minister, Dominic Raab announced changes to Permitted Development Rights which enable flexibility for rural sites to be converted from three to up to five family homes (Class Use C3) to better meet local housing need without the need to apply for Planning Permission.  You can read his statement here.

Amendments to the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) were approved by Parliament on 12th March 2018 and have come into force today, 6th April 2018.

The amendments allow buildings which currently are/were in ‘active agricultural use’ on or before 20th March 2013 to be redeveloped for up to 5 dwellings. This will allow for the following:

  • Up to 3 larger homes within a maximum of 465 sq. m. (5005.2sqf)
  • Up to 5 smaller homes, each no larger than 100 sq. m. (1076.4sqf)
  • Combination of both above options – no more than 5 homes (no more than 3 being larger homes).

The permitted floor area has marginally increased from 450 sqm (4,843 sqft) to 465sqm (5005.2sqf). As set out above, the provisions can be combined to provide up to 5 dwellings per agricultural unit subject to the floor space limitations, with no more than 3 dwellings as larger dwellings.

Permitted Development Rights are subject to obtaining approval from the LPA first. This means that you must notify the relevant LPA and submit a prior approval application before starting any work. If the Council do not issue a decision within the time frame of 56 days, then development can begin.

Restrictions
It must be noted that permitted development rights are generally more restricted in the following designated areas:

  • Conservation Area
  • National Park
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or
  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

Criteria
The following criteria will need to be met before a development can be considered as permitted development:

  • Buildings must have been used solely for agricultural use on or before 20 March 2013.
  • The new rights are not afforded to those who have used PD rights to build or extend buildings since 20 March 2013.

Please note that once the new PD rights have been exercised, there will be no opportunity to construct or extend an agricultural building for a period of 10 years.

Urbanissta welcome these amendments to the legislation, though its not a silver bullet, are hopeful that these changes will boost the number of homes created through the conversions of agricultural buildings which will assist in meeting local housing needs across the country.

The explanatory memorandum can be read here.

The amendments to the Legislation can be read here.

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The GDPR and planning applications

 

In 2015 a Council breached the Data Protection Act (DPA) when it published the information in planning application documents which it made publicly available online.

The Council was fined £150,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO is an independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

When the ICO did an investigation, they found that on the 16th July 2015, the Council received a written statement in support of a householder’s planning application for proposed works in a green belt.

The statement contained sensitive personal data relating to a static traveller family who had been living on the site for many years. In particular, it referred to the family’s disability requirements, including mental health issues, the names of all the family members, their ages and the location of their home.

The Council published the statement in full on its online planning portal later that day.

The ICO investigation found that this was due to failings in data protection procedures and training. An inexperienced Council officer did not notice the personal information in the statement, and there was no procedure in place for a second person to check it before the personal data was inadvertently published online.

The information was only removed on the 4th September 2015 when the concerns came to light.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If the same data breach was to happen after the 25th May of this year, the Council could have faced a fine of £17,000,000!

There is a new data protection law coming into force and anyone who handles data about ‘people’ has to be compliant.

Currently, the maximum fine the ICO can issue is £0.5m. After this May, larger fines of up to £17m (€20m) or 4% of global turnover will be allowed, enabling the ICO to respond in a proportionate manner to the most serious data breaches.

The GDPR is based on a set of common-sense principles:

  • A “right to be forgotten”: When an individual no longer wants her/his data to be processed and provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it, the data will be deleted. This is about protecting the privacy of individuals, not about erasing past events or restricting freedom of the press
  • Easier access to your data: Individuals will have more information on how their data is processed and this information should be available in a clear and understandable way. A right to data portability will make it easier for individuals to transmit personal data between service providers
  • The right to know when your data has been hacked: Companies and organisations must notify the national supervisory authority of data breaches which put individuals at risk and communicate to the data subject all high-risk breaches as soon as possible so that users can take appropriate measures
  • Data protection by design and by default:‘Data protection by design’ and ‘Data protection by default’ is now essential elements in EU data protection rules. Data protection safeguards will be built into products and services from the earliest stage of development, and privacy-friendly default settings will be the norm – for example on social networks or mobile apps
  • Stronger enforcement of the rules: Data protection authorities will be able to fine companies who do not comply with EU rules up to 4% of their global annual turnover or £17,000,000 – whichever is more

If you are an organization that handles data about people, you should note the following…
Identify where you or your company are storing data, for example:

  • Your website
  • Telesales – do you store names and numbers for your agents to call?
  • Direct mail – do you have completed order forms stored away with contact details?
  • Customer service departments – calls taken from potential customers and those recorded details
  • Personal contact with people – the exchange of business cards from a tradeshow or exhibition

Prepare yourself and your staff, make them well aware of the changes that are coming.

  • Make sure that they understand the principles of good data protection and that they don’t write down details of people on a piece of paper that could go astray, end up in the bin or taken home on computers or memory sticks where information could get stolen
  • Evaluate your environment and how you document personal data – where did it come from, who have you shared it with?
  • How will you audit the data? Review current policy notices and put a plan in place – procedures and timescales
  • Be compliant, review your practices and make sure that, to the best of your ability, you look after the data as if it were your own
  • Make sure your organisation’s privacy policy of how you handle data is compliant with the new rules and is up to date
  • Decide how you will be able to prove that your data is secured safely and how to seek consent moving forwards.

Do you need a Data Officer?
A data protection officer (DPO) is an enterprise security leadership role required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data protection officers are responsible for overseeing data protection strategy and implementation to ensure compliance with GDPR requirements. A DPO would be recommended for any organization that processes or stores large amounts of personal data, whether for employees, individuals outside the organization, or both. Seek advice as to whether your company should employ a DPO.

The GDPR is a very hot topic at the moment and we will be keeping you up to date with any developments.
Read more about the ICO and the GDPR  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Legal Beagle

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.

1. Car showroom replaced to provide office spaces and 142 residential unit – Harlow

Appeal Ref: APP/N1540/W/17/3172421

Appeal Decision Date: 26th September 2017

Appellant: Hollybrook (Harlow) Limited

Respondent: Harlow District Council

 The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Harlow District Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Hollybrook (Harlow) Limited against the non-determination of a planning application for demolition of existing motor dealership buildings and replacement with a development comprising 142 residential units, 1,155 sq.m. of office floorspace (within class B1) and 161 car parking spaces”.

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

  • Effect on employment space
  • Whether the scheme make adequate provision for affordable housing
  • Effect on pedestrian and highway safety

Employment space

The site was previously used for car sales, servicing and repairs – however at the time of the appeal was largely vacant. The proposal sought to provide 1,155sq.m of offices as well as 142 residential units. The inspector acknowledged that the site benefits from extant planning permission for redevelopment of the site to provide a replacement car showroom with servicing and repair facilities, along with 102 residential units. The appeal proposal sought more residential units, however, the inspector concluded that the offices proposed would generate more employment than the car showroom – as such, the scheme would not contribute to the loss of employment space.

Affordable housing

Policy H5 suggests that the council use 30% affordable housing as a baseline for negotiations – this is increased to 33% in the Affordable Housing Supplementary document. Expert advice concluded that a provision of 8.5% affordable housing was appropriate level of affordable housing on the site. The inspector concluded that as there was a substantial need of affordable housing in Harlow, this weighed in favour of the development.

Pedestrian and highway safety

The site was considered a safe environment based on the accident records. In terms of parking, 142 parking spaces were proposed for the residential units, with offices provided with 19 spaces. The Council considered this to fall short of their requirements. The inspector, however, concluded that as the scheme is located closer to the town centre, parking requirements differ and the quantity of parking would not lead to inconsiderate parking and harm to pedestrian/highway safety.

Conclusion

The Inspector concluded that the proposal would form sustainable development and the appeal should succeed as the development not result in the loss of employment space; the proposals offer much needed affordable housing in the area, and the quantity of parking would not lead to inconsiderate parking and harm to pedestrian/highway safety.

On the basis of the above, the appeal was allowed.
Download the decision here.

 

2. Development allowed after inspector reduced affordable housing from 40% to 20% after assessing viability – Skipton

Appeal Ref: APP/C2708/W/16/ 3150511

Appeal Decision Date: 29th September 2017

Appellant: Skipton Properties Ltd

Respondent: Craven District Council

The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Craven District Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Skipton Properties Ltd against the non-determination of a planning application for “residential development of 93 dwellings – amendments to layout and alteration of house types on plots 4 to 58 and 62 to 99 (pursuant to outline approval 63/2010/11062 and reserved matters approval 63/2013/13350) without complying with a condition attached to planning permission Ref 63/2015/15726, dated 11th August 2015.”

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

  • Whether a condition requiring affordable housing (AH) on site would meet the statutory tests set out in the NPPF
  • Whether the scheme make adequate provision for affordable housing

Timeline background

The timeline and background of the appeal is explained below:

2012: Outline permission was granted for 103 dwellings.

2013: Reserved matters permission pursuant to outline for 103 units (41 AH units) was secured.

March 2015: MMA to vary the house types for the first 10 dwellings approved.

March 2015: Application sought to revise the house types for the remaining 93 dwellings was approved subject to a number of conditions.

October 2015: Application refused.

Nov 2015: An application to vary Condition 2 (40% AH provision) to reduce the amount of affordable housing on site to 20%.

April 2016: Application to vary condition 2 was refused.

The appeal was originally submitted on the basis that a 40% AH requirement was unviable and that provision should instead be made at 20%.  Following the quashing of the SPD the appellant has also advanced the argument that in the absence of adopted development plan policies seeking AH, a requirement for AH cannot be justified.  It is also claimed that the condition is unenforceable.

Affordable Housing

A requirement of 40% was imposed on the original outline permission, handed down from the RSS.  The current scheme has a full and separate permission which was granted in part due to the fallback provided by the previous approval10, which was subject to an affordable housing requirement. In this regard, despite the passage of time, I accept the Council’s view that the provision of affordable housing was a benefit which in part justified granting permission for a development which was contrary to the development plan, and that the absence of AH should be considered as a disbenefit which is a material consideration in any assessment of the proposal.

Conclusion

It was concluded that the provision of AH would not prevent the implementation of the scheme and would not alter the number of units provided.  “There are therefore no benefits to attribute from the alternative provision of market housing. It follows that the harm arising from the proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits in this case.” The inspector decided that subject to S106 agreements to provide for public open space and affordable housing at 20% the appeal be allowed in accordance with conditions.

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

Download the decision here.

 

3. Land at Middlesgate Road, West Frampton – Boston

Appeal Ref: APP/Z2505/W/17/3170198

Appeal Decision Date: 25th October 2017

Appellant: Larkfleet Ltd t/a Allison Homes

Respondent: Boston Borough Council

 The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Boston Borough Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Larkfleet Ltd t/a Allison Homes against the non-determination of a planning application for “The development proposed is the erection of up to 215 dwellings including access off Middlegate Road West, public open space and drainage infrastructure.”

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

  • Whether the principle of development outside the settlement boundary would be acceptable
  • The effect on landscape character and the visual amenity
  • Whether the Council can demonstrate a 5-year supply of housing land

Principle of development

The site falls in the open countryside just outside of the settlement boundary of Kirton. Policy CO1 of the Boston Local Plan 1999 (BLP) restricts development in the countryside unless it is supported by other policies within the development. It was accepted by both parties that there are no policies to support development in the countryside. It was accepted that the development proposals conflict with Policy CO1.

Landscape character and visual amenity

Policy G1 and G2 of the BLP 1999 set out a criterion which all development proposals should be assessed against. The inspector considered that the proposals could not be assessed against G1 as details such as density, scale etc would be dealt with as reserved matters. Policy G2 prohibits development which has significant adverse impacts on existing landscape, wildlife and vegetation sources.

The impact on the landscape was considered a material issue in this appeal and the council argued that the proposal would not follow any existing boundary and would cut across two fields – this would not respect the character of the existing landscape.

As the development would be concentrated around existing settlements and near main roads, the inspector considered that the development would be an extension of the existing urban area. With appropriate planting to the eastern side of the boundary and the break in development to the eastern side of the A16, it was concluded that there would be no coalescence. The proposal, however, was seen to reduce views from the Stump from Middlegate Road West which was seen to cause harm by restricting views of the important landscape feature.

The inspector concluded that the proposal would not substantially harm the general character of the area or adversely impact upon the existing landscape.  However, although there would be some adverse impacts on the landscape and the character of the area, these would not be so significant that the development would breach the respective thresholds of acceptability. In terms of visual impact, the Inspector considered the proposal to cause significant harm in terms of the loss of open views.

5-YLS

The Council could not demonstrate a five year supply of housing land. The Council argued that they had a 3.4 years supply whilst the appellant suggested that it is in the region of 1.61 years. The Inspector agreed with the Appellant and decided that the Council had less than 3.4 year supply.

Conclusion

In concluding the appeal and granting permission, the Inspector stated:

“Bringing all the above together in the final balance, I consider that the adverse environmental impacts I have identified would not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the social and economic benefits, in particular, the significant contribution to the shortfall of housing in the area.  Even if the housing shortfall was at the level the Council suggests, the adverse impacts of the proposal would not, in my judgment, outweigh the benefits.  The proposal, therefore, constitutes sustainable development as defined in the Framework. The factors above provide the material considerations to grant planning permission other than in accordance with the development plan.”

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

Download the decision here.

 

4. Land north of Loperwood Lane, Calmore – Totton

Appeal Ref: APP/B1740/W/16/3164266

Appeal Decision Date: 29th September 2017

Appellant: Howard Sharp & Partners LLP

Respondent: New Forest District Council

 The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Boston Borough Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Howard Sharp & Partners LLP against the non-determination of a planning application for “up to 80 dwellings; open space; drainage”

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

  • Development outside settlement boundary

Principle of development

The Site is situated on the northern edge of Totton screened by hedgerows and mature trees, some of which are protected by TPO. As the Site falls outside of the settlement boundary and within the countryside, the proposal conflicts with policy DM20 of the New Forest District Local Plan Part 2 Sites and Development Management (adopted 2014) (the ‘Local Plan part 2’), which resist development in the countryside.

Conclusion

The appeal was considered in the light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes Ltd and SSCLG, Richborough Estates Partnership LLP and SSCLG v Cheshire East BC [2017] UKSC 37 where the policies do not amount to policies for the supply of housing and restricted development. It was further acknowledged that the council could not demonstrate a 5-year land supply, as such the ‘tilted balance’ set out in the second part of the Framework’s paragraph 14 was engaged.

It was considered that although the proposal would conflict with relevant Local Plan policies, however, “it would not result in adverse effects that would be sufficient to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the scheme’s clear benefits – notably the provision of much-needed housing, including affordable housing”.

On the basis of the above, the Inspector deemed the appeal proposal as sustainable development in the terms of the Framework.

In light of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download the decision here.

 

5. Out of date settlement boundary policies given limited weight for restricting development – Hampshire

 Appeal Ref: APP/N1730/W/17/3167135

Appeal Decision Date: 06th October 2017

Appellant: Berkeley Strategic Land Limited

Respondent: Hart District Council

 The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Hart District Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission.

Background

An appeal was made by Berkeley Strategic Land Limited against the non-determination of a planning application for “outline application for up to 423 residential dwellings and a community facility.  Associated vehicular, pedestrian and cycle access, drainage and landscape works, including the provision of public open space and sports pitches.”

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

  • The effect of the proposed development on the Local Gap between Fleet, Church Crookham and Crookham Village and impact on the setting of the countryside
  • Highway safety
  • Whether there are any material consideration which would justify development being determined other than in accordance with the development plan

Local Gap

The eastern side of the appeal site falls within a defined local gap between Fleet and Crookham Village. This is contrary to Policy CON21 whereby the policy makes clear that development which leads to coalescence of or has a detrimental impact on the identity of neighbouring settlements will be resisted.

The inspector concluded that as the development would only occupy one-third of the local gap and the remaining area between Netherhouse Copse and Crookham Village will be undeveloped – there would be no direct coalescence of the settlements. In terms of identity, Crookham derives its identity from being a settlement of rural character and appearance, largely surrounded by open agricultural land which differs from Fleet, as such, Crookham Village would not lose its distinctive character. It was decided that there would be no conflict with policy CON21.

Character and Setting

In terms of the effect on the character and setting of a settlement, it was acknowledged that the development would impact its immediate surroundings and views from further afield. Landscape mitigation was suggested as a means to soften the negative impacts. It was concluded that the impact would be localised and limited and therefore would not have a serious adverse effect on the character or setting. It was however decided that there would be a conflict with policy CON23 due to the adverse impact on the amenity and recreational value of local footpaths which would seriously detract from those qualities.

Highway Safety

The enquiry concluded that the main issue was surrounding the design of the proposed access arrangements rather than whether safe access could be achieved; namely visibility sight lines and roundabout size. The inspector agreed with the Appellant in that the Site could be accessed appropriately in terms of highway safety and would not conflict with Policy T14 of the LP or Policy T15.

Conclusion

The Inspector referred to the Suffolk Coastal Case. It was noted that “the weight to be given to restrictive policies can be reduced where they are derived from settlement boundaries that in turn reflect out-of-date housing requirements”. In light of this case, the inspector concluded that Policy RUR2 is dependent upon the out-of-date settlement boundaries of RUR1 and as such carried limited weight. Policy CON21 was given moderate weight and CON22 was considered to conflict with the hierarchical approach of paragraph 113 of the Framework and the valued landscape approach of paragraph 109.  Paragraph 14 of the Framework was engaged – the benefits were seen to outweigh the adverse impacts.

In light of the above, the appeal was allowed.

Download the decision here.

Permission granted as council could only demonstrate 1.9 years supply of housing.

 

6. Land off Burndell Road, Yapton – West Sussex

Appeal Ref: APP/C3810/V/16/3158261

Appeal Decision Date: 13th October 2017

Appellant: Gleeson Developments

Respondent: Arun District Council

The appeal is made under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 the application was referred to the SoS.

Background

An application was made by Gleeson Developments Limited  application for “the development of up to 108 residential dwellings, vehicular access from Burndell Road, public open space, ancillary works and associated infrastructure, in accordance with application ref: Y/19/16/OUT, dated 7th March 2016.”

In granting permission the Inspector gave consideration to the following main issues.

  • Housing land supply
  • The weight attaching to development plan policies
  • The impact of the proposal

Housing Land Supply

The Council failed to meet the five-year supply of deliverable housing sites. It was agreed between the parties that there has been a persistent undersupply of housing and a 20% buffer should be applied. The inspector considered the shortfall to be significant with only 1.9 years supply of deliverable housing sites at best.

Development Plan

The Inspector considered the proposal to conflict with “LP policies GEN2 and GEN3, which deal with the settlement boundary and countryside protection respectively and would also conflict with YNP policies H1 and BB1, which deal with housing requirement and built-up area boundary respectively.” As established above, the council cannot demonstrate a 5-year land supply and therefore, these policies were seen to carry limited weight.

Impact

It was accepted that there were no Landscape or design concerns about the proposal, the site is not identified as being an important gap between Yapton and Ford and there Grade II listed building would not be adversely affected. The Inspector concluded that “overall with regard to the environmental dimension of sustainability on the basis of these conclusions, there would be a neutral effect.” Socially, the proposal would provide substantial benefit and bring with it the economic benefits of construction jobs and construction-related activity. These benefits outweigh the adverse impacts.

In light of the above, permission was granted.

Download the decision here.

 

7. Out of date local plan policies lead to appeal being allowed – Gloucesterhshire

 Appeal Ref: APP/P1615/A/14/2218921RD

Appeal Decision Date: 07th November 2017

Appellant: ALLASTON DEVELOPMENTS LTD

Respondent: Forest of Dean District Council

The appeal was made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Forest of Dean Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission with a call in from the Secretary of State.

Background

The application was refused by the Forest of Dean Council in January 2014 and during the appeal, it was called in by the Secretary of State on November 18th 2014. The secretary of State disagreed with the recommendation of the planning inspector and dismissed the application in December 2015. The Secretary of State’s decision was challenged in the High Court and was subsequently quashed. The appeal has therefore been re-determined by the Secretary of State, following a re-opened inquiry. The secretary of state agreed with the Inspector to allow the appeal and grant planning permission for “delivery of up to 200 dwellings, including up to 20 serviced self-build plots and up to 37 retirement apartments, community building (up to 2,000 sq. ft.) comprising flexible A1/D2 ancillary space and new public open space”.

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

  • Material considerations
  • Valued landscapes
  • The effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area
  • Traffic conditions travel by car and highway safety
  • Benefits and delivery

Material considerations

The Inspector and Secretary of State agreed that whilst the development would be in conflict with a number of Core Strategy policies, and in conflict with the Neighbourhood Plan when read as a whole, the lack of a housing land supply, which was noted as less than 3 years, rendered those relevant policies in the Core Strategy and Neighbourhood Plan as out of date.

Valued landscape

The site was not regarded as a valued landscape.

The effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area

The arrangement of the site was recognised as minimising the impact on the character of the area, both by containment and by scale. While the physical characteristics of the site would be transformed, such change would not cause significant harm to the key characteristics of the Allaston Ridge Landscape Character Area and the character of the area as a whole. The visual amenity of the rights of way would suffer significant harm, by the closer presence of buildings, by being set within managed grounds, and through the material diminution of views, however, this was given moderate weight.

Traffic conditions – travel by car and highway safety

The location of the development was recognised as a sustainable location for housing growth and no evidence was provided to suggest a site to deliver the additional housing numbers that the district requires. The harm to traffic conditions and harm to air quality also carried limited weight.

Benefits and delivery

The development of the site would make a contribution to the supply of housing. The pressing need for the delivery of new homes, and in particular those which would be affordable, would continue to provide strong justification for the development of the appeal site. The Secretary of State identified that there was nothing of material substance relating to delivery which would justify the refusal of planning permission.

Conclusion 

The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that local plan policies were out of date and were afforded limited weight. Having regard to material considerations, the harm to the character and appearance of the area, with particular reference to the loss of open countryside and the amenity of public footpaths carried moderate weight. The harm to traffic conditions carried limited weight as car usage was identified as neutral. The provision of the diverse mix of homes carries significant weight along with the provision of a new community building and employment during the construction stage carry moderate weight. The adverse impacts of the proposal did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.

For the reasons above, the Appeal was allowed and outline permission was granted.

Download the decision here.

 

8. Recovered appeal granted permission as the proposal was considered a very special circumstance – St.Albans

Appeal Ref: APP/B1930/W/15/3051164

Appeal Decision Date: 17th November 2017

Appellant: Oaklands College and Taylor Wimpey North Thames

Respondent: St Albans City and District Council

The appeal was made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Forest of Dean Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission with a call in from the Secretary of State.

Background

The application was refused by St Albans City and District Council in September 2013. The appeal was recovered by the Secretary of State on July 10th 2015. The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspectors recommendation to allow the appeal and grant planning permission for “comprehensive redevelopment to provide new and refurbished college buildings, enabling residential development of 348 dwellings, car parking, associated access and landscaping, including the demolition of existing buildings”.

The application was subject of EIA.

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the main issues considered by the Inspector and Secretary of State were:

  • Green Belt considerations
  • The effect on the character and appearance of the area
  • The effect on the protected trees in Beaumont Wood
  • Educational benefits
  • Enhancement of beneficial Green Belt uses
  • Housing delivery
  • The effect on heritage assets
  • The effect on the Sandpit Lane area – traffic, flooding and Rights of Way

Green Belt considerations

The site being located within the Green Belt was recognised as inappropriate which is harmful by definition. Development in the Gren Belt should not be approved except in very special circumstances. Significant weight was attributed to the harm caused by the proposed development.

The effect on the character and appearance of the area

Limited weight was given to the character and appearance of the area as the beneficial effect of the college development in landscape terms goes some way towards balancing the harm caused by the residential development. Overall the combined proposal would cause some limited harm to the character and appearance of the area.

The effect on the protected trees in Beaumont Wood

It was recognised that Beaumont Wood contributes to the visual amenity of the area and is a resource worthy of protection. The development would not harm protected trees.

Educational benefits

The delivery of high-quality education was recognised as a national and local priority and the quality of the educational offer at the College was not in dispute. The Inspector reported that many of the existing buildings are of very poor quality and are wholly unsuited to the provision of the high standard of education which the College continues to provide. The improvements to the college would only be funded through the residential development and the Council did not put forward any educational or viability evidence to suggest that development on a smaller scale could properly meet the needs of the College and its students.

Enhancement of beneficial Green Belt uses

The proposed development carries with it a number of benefits for uses and facilities within the Green Belt which were agreed by the parties as material considerations in favour of the proposal as set out in the Statement of Common Ground and afforded moderate weight.

 Housing Delivery

The benefits arising from the provision of market and affordable housing was a matter of common ground and the council’s land supply was most recently noted as 3.72 years. There was disagreement between the secretary and the Inspector regarding the policies for Green Belt development being out of date. The Secretary of State recognised that given that the Council could not demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing, and the contribution the proposal would make to meet the significant shortfall, Local Plan policies directly relating to the supply of housing must be deemed as out of date. The weight to be attached to the provision of affordable housing was afforded significant weight.

The effect on heritage assets

The removal of unsympathetic extensions to the Mansion House, along with the intention to improve the setting of the other historic features of the campus, was recognised as a benefit in heritage terms. The scale of the overall scheme and the undesignated status of the Mansion House suggested limited weight be attached to heritage matters.

The effect on the Sandpit Lane area – traffic, flooding and Rights of Way

The concern expressed by residents concerning increased level of traffic along Sandpit Lane was recognised, however, there was no objection from the highway authority and there was no detailed evidence from any other party to suggest any negative impacts. The matter was therefore neutral in the planning balance. There was no technical evidence to counter the appellants evidence on the matter of drainage. The provision of a new footpath was also at an early stage and did not weigh against the proposal.

Planning balance and overall conclusion

The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that the scheme was not in accordance with the Development Plan in relation to Green Belt and settlement policies. However, there were material considerations which indicated the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan. These included the limited harm to the character and appearance of the area and the delivery of significant improvements to the college. In light of the lack of a five year housing land supply, the proposed market and affordable housing was also identified as a significant benefit (IR 252) that carried significant weight in favour of the proposal.

Overall, the Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that the considerations outweighed the harm to the Green Belt, justifying the proposal on the basis of very special circumstances. He, therefore, concluded that the adverse impacts of the proposed development would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The appeal was allowed, and planning permission granted.

Download the decision here.

 

9. Permission granted for a mixed use development in an unsustainable location – Leicestershire

 Appeal Ref: APP/Y2430/W/16/3150720

Appeal Decision Date: 17th November 2017

Appellant: Brooksby Melton College

Respondent: Melton Borough Council

The appeal was made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against the decision of Forest of Dean Council (“the Council”) to refuse planning permission with a call in from the Secretary of State.

Background

The application was refused by Melton Borough Council for “mixed use redevelopment of the disused education/agricultural complex at the Spinney, Brooksby for residential development (up to 70 dwellings), B1 development (up to 850 sq.m) and village shop 100 sq.m(A1) with means of access.”

In allowing the appeal and granting permission the main issues considered were:

  • Whether the proposed development would provide a suitable site for housing, having regard to the proximity of services and the benefits of the proposal

Suitability

The site constitutes previously developed land and lies 7 miles to the south west of Melton Mowbray and comprises a number of derelict buildings and a grade II listed building. The inspector acknowledged that the Site falls within the countryside with reasonable bus service, however, it is likely that most residents would use private transport for their day to day needs, as such the location was deemed unsustainable. The appellant proposed highway works as part of the scheme which included relocation of the bus stop and the installation of a pelican crossing. The appellants also proposed a village shop, however, the inspector raised doubts in respect of its long-term usage.

The Inspector referred to a previous scheme submitted by the Appellant which is located in a sustainable location and provides 21 affordable homes. The inspector states that “The King Street scheme in its current guise could only go ahead in tandem with the appeal site scheme due to the funding that the proposed scheme would provide”. When considering the Melton Theatre, the Appellant expressed that although it brings cultural benefits, there is a financial strain in subsiding the theatre and without investment, the theatre would close in the future.

The appellant’s evidence confirmed that as part of the, up to £2.1 million would be invested into the theatre to bring it up to modern day standard along with allowing the college to fund restoration works to grade II* listed building. The inspector noted that the Melton Local Plan 1999 is out of date and the tilted balance of NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) paragraph 14 was engaged. He concluded that although the scheme is in an unsustainable location, “the adverse impacts of the proposal would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the wide range of benefits of the proposal when assessed against the policies in the Framework as a whole”. The appeal was therefore allowed.

Planning balance and overall conclusion

The Inspector considered the case to present an unparalleled set of circumstances, “which although resulting in a development in a location which would not normally be ideal, presents a unique range of benefits which would benefit the Borough as a whole”.  It was considered that the benefits significantly and demonstrably outweighed the adverse impacts. As such the appeal was allowed and planning permission was granted.

Download the decision here.

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The 2017 Autumn Budget and the broken housing market

 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Autumn Budget to Parliament on 22nd November 2017. The Chancellor has pledged to fix the UK’s ‘broken housing market’. The investment he announced in the budget – which included £15.3bn of new funding – is meant to deliver at least 300,000 more houses by the 2020s.

He has also pledged to deliver five new garden towns by 2050 which would mean almost a million more houses.

Here is the need to know facts about housing from the 2017 Autumn Budget:

Planning for more homes

The planning system needed reform to boost land availability in the right places for homes, and to ensure that better use was made of underused land in urban areas whilst confirming the government’s commitment to maintain the existing protections for the Green Belt.

Deallocating sites from plans:

It will consult on strengthening policy to be clear that allocated land should be taken out of a plan if there is no prospect of a planning application being made.

Intervention where there is a failure to progress Local Plans:

DCLG had begun the formal process of considering intervention in 15 areas where the local authority had failed to put an up-to-date plan in place. It would shortly activate powers enabling it to direct local planning authorities to produce joint statutory plans and undertake an assessment of where they should be used.

First-time buyer led developments:

It would consult on a new policy whereby local authorities would be expected to permission land outside their plan on the condition that a high proportion of the homes were offered for discounted sale for first-time buyers, or for affordable rent. This would exclude land in the Green Belt.

Increasing housing density in urban areas :

It would consult on introducing:

  • Minimum densities for housing development in city centres and around transport hubs, with greater support for the use of compulsory purchase powers for site assembly
  • Policy changes to support the conversion of empty space above high street shops
  • Policy changes to make it easier to convert retail and employment land into housing
  • A permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes

Ensuring that planning permissions were built out faster

It was determined to ensure that land released for housing was put to the best use. It will consult on:

  • Strengthening the Housing Delivery Test with tougher consequences where planned homes are not being built, by setting the threshold at which the presumption in favour of development applied at 75% of housing delivery by 2020
  • Expecting local authorities to bring forward 20% of their housing supply as small sites. This will speed up the building of new homes and supports the government’s wider ambition to increase competition in the house building market
  • Speeding up the development process by removing the exemptions from the deemed discharge rules. This will get builders on site more quickly, ensuring that development is not held back by delays in discharging planning conditions

Review of build out:

It would set up a review panel, chaired by Sir Oliver Letwin, to explain the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permission, and make recommendations for closing it.The review will provide an interim report in time for Spring Statement 2018 and a full report at Budget 2018.

Register of planning permissions:

It would develop a central register of residential planning permissions from local authorities to improve information on where permissions are held and progress towards them being built out.

Developer contributions

Land value uplift:

In this year’s Housing White Paper, the government committed to responding to the CIL Review. DCLG will launch a consultation with detailed proposals on the following measures:

  • Removing restriction of Section 106 pooling towards a single piece of infrastructure where the local authority has adopted CIL, in certain circumstances such as where the authority is in a low viability area or where significant development is planned on several large strategic sites. This will avoid the unnecessary complexity that pooling restrictions can generate
  • Speeding up the process of setting and revising CIL to make it easier to respond to changes to the market. This will include allowing a more proportionate approach than the requirement for two stages of consultation and providing greater clarity on the appropriate evidence base. This will enable areas to implement a CIL more quickly, making it easier to set a higher ‘zonal CIL’ in areas of high land value uplift, for example around stations
  • Allowing authorities to set rates which better reflect the uplift in land values between a proposed and existing use. Rather than setting a flat rate for all development of the same type (residential, commercial, etc.), local authorities will have the option of a different rate for different changes in land use (agricultural to residential, commercial to residential, industrial to residential). All the protections for viability from CIL, such as the Examination in Public, will be retained
  • Changing indexation of CIL rates to house price inflation, rather than build costs. This will reduce the need for authorities to revise charging schedules. This will ensure CIL rates keep up with general housing price inflation and if prices fall, rates will fall too, avoiding viability issues
  • Giving Combined Authorities and planning joint committees with statutory plan-making functions the option to levy a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff (SIT) in future, in the same way, that the London Mayoral CIL is providing funding towards Crossrail. The SIT would be additional to CIL and viability would be examined in public. DCLG will consult on whether it should be used to fund both strategic and local infrastructure

Housing investment:

These reforms would ensure that there was more land for housing, but the private sector and local authorities would need support to ensure homes were built as soon as possible.

  • The government would strengthen the ability of the Homes and Communities Agency (to be renamed Homes England) to use investment and planning powers to intervene more actively in the land market
  • Land Assembly Fund: It would provide £1.1 billion for a new Land Assembly Fund, funded from the NPIF, enabling Homes England to work alongside private developers to develop strategic sites, including new settlements and urban regeneration schemes
  • New garden towns: It would bring together public and private capital to build five new garden towns, using appropriate delivery vehicles such as development corporations, including in areas of high demand such as the South East
  • Increasing the Housing Infrastructure Fund: It would invest further in infrastructure through the NPIF to support new housing in high-demand areas. The Budget committed a further £2.7 billion to the competitively allocated Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) in England
  • Strategic planning in the South East: Government would support more strategic and zonal planning approaches through housing deals in the South East, where housing need was at its most acute. As a first step, it had agreed on a housing deal with Oxfordshire, part of its wider strategic investment in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor. Oxfordshire would bring forward for adoption a joint statutory spatial plan and commit to a stretching target of 100,000 homes in the county by 2031, in return for a package of government support over the next five years, including £30 million a year for infrastructure and further support for affordable housing and local capacity. The government was also continuing housing deal negotiations with Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Leeds and the West of England
  • Small sites: infrastructure and remediation: It would provide a further £630 million through the NPIF to accelerate the building of homes on small, stalled sites, by funding on-site infrastructure and land remediation
  • Home Building Fund: SMEs: It announced a further £1.5 billion for the Home Building Fund, providing loans specifically targeted at supporting SMEs who cannot access the finance they need to build

Housing guarantees:

It would explore options with industry to create £8 billion worth of new guarantees to support housebuilding, including SMEs and purpose-built rented housing.

Affordable housing:

Increasing supply:

  • It confirmed a further £2 billion of funding for affordable housing, announced in October, including funding for social rented homes
  • The Budget would lift Housing Revenue Account borrowing caps for councils in areas of high affordability pressure, so they could build more council homes. Local authorities would be invited to bid for increases in their caps from 2019-20, up to a total of £1 billion by the end of 2021-22. The government will monitor how authorities respond to this opportunity and consider whether any further action is needed
  • Estate regeneration: there would be £400 million of loan funding for estate regeneration to provide new homes in high‑demand areas

Construction skills:

To deliver a workforce fit to build these homes, it was providing £34 million to scale up innovative training models across the country and was working with industry to finalise a Construction Sector Deal to support innovation and skills in the sector, including £170 million of investment through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Homeownership

Stamp duty land tax: It would permanently raise the price at which a property became liable for SDLT to £300,000 for first-time buyers to help young people buy their first home. The relief will not apply for purchases of properties worth over £500,000. 95% of first-time buyers that paid SDLT will benefit, up to a maximum of £5,000, and 80% of first-time buyers will pay no SDLT at all.

Help to Buy Equity Loan: 

The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme helps people to buy a home with a 5% deposit and has supported 135,000 people so far. The Budget confirmed the announcement in October of a further £10 billion for the scheme, supporting another 135,000 people to buy a new home.

Creditworthiness and rental payment data: 

The government will launch a £2 million competition, to support FinTech firms developing innovative solutions that help first-time buyers ensure their history of meeting rental payments on time is recognised in their credit scores and mortgage applications. Mortgage lenders and credit reference agencies are often unable to take rental payment history into account as they do not have access to this data. This competition will support firms to solve this problem.

Empty homes premium:

To encourage owners of empty homes to bring their properties back into use local authorities would be able to increase the council tax premium from 50% to 100%.

Right to Buy pilot:

It would proceed with a £200 million large-scale regional pilot of the Right to Buy for housing association tenants in the Midlands.

Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor – Housing:

Up to 1 million new homes were needed in the area by 2050 to maximise its economic potential, starting with a housing deal with Oxfordshire (see above) and working with Central and Eastern sections on commitments in 2018. It would also consider significant new settlements and the potential role of development corporations to deliver these using private finance.

Land value uplift:

Authorities and delivery bodies in the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor were expected to use existing mechanisms of land value capture and the new powers (subject to consultation) announced at the Budget to capture rising land values from the additional public investment. It would also encourage authorities to explore the introduction of a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff, in addition to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), supported by appropriate governance arrangements, requiring developers to baseline their contributions towards infrastructure into the values they paid for land.

Read the full 2017 Autumn Budget.

Read more…

If Britain does build a million homes, let’s not make a million more people lonely – The Guardian.

Legal & General accelerates housing investment after budget – FT Advisor

Will more housing result in more jobs in the construction sector? – Buy Association

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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