• Issue 50

  • Sep 2019

The Source

INTERESTING APPEAL DECISIONS

Salisbury, Wiltshire Council (462 dwellings) – Dismissed

An appeal made by Old Sarum Airfield Limited for 462 dwellings against the refusal of Wiltshire Council has been dismissed.

Heritage

As the appeal site is essentially made up of the WW1 Old Sarum Airfield which is a designated Conservation Area and Scheduled Ancient Monument containing 3 Grade II* listed buildings, the Inspector concluded that the development would result in the erosion of the character and appearance of these heritage assets and therefore they gave this factor considerable importance and great weight.

Public Benefits

Although there were a number of public benefits identified with the scheme including improvements to the flying field, the Inspector concluded that the harm to heritage outweighs the public benefits of the development.

Halstead, Braintree Council (71 dwellings) – Allowed

An appeal made by Tesni Properties Limited for 71 dwellings against the refusal of Braintree Council has been allowed.

Character and Appearance
The Inspector found that the land that is due to be developed is of no particular value and that as long as the proposed landscaping is undertaken and includes the retention of strong hedgerow boundaries then the development will have a minor impact on the character of the area.

Heritage
The Inspector found that there would be limited harm to Blamsers grade II listed farmhouse although the scheme may undermine the agrarian landscape however, ultimately the harm identified is not substantial enough to restrict development.

Living Conditions
The Inspector found that the proposed development would provide adequate access to amenities. The Inspector also states that he is satisfied that the privacy of surrounding homes would not be compromised.

Eye, Peterborough Council (22 dwellings) – Dismissed

An appeal made by an individual for 22 dwellings against the refusal of Peterborough Council has been dismissed.

Character and Appearance
The Inspector concluded that the proposal would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area as the scheme does not achieve a high-quality design that reflects the local distinctiveness, with an intrusive layout and window designs.

Living Conditions
Despite the appellant using a planning permission from 2014 as a comparison in their argument, the Inspector considers it incomparable after being advised by the council that it was approved with all matters reserved for future consideration regarding the layout and urban setting. The suggested method of noise mitigation – keeping windows closed at all times – results in unacceptable living conditions for all future occupiers. Coupled with the schemes impact on character and appearance, the negative impacts were deemed substantive, hence the appeal was dismissed.

Biodiversity
The Inspector concluded that, given the amount of evidence provided by the appellant with regards to the effect of the proposal on native hedges and trees, it was not demonstrated that the appeal site would not be harmful to biodiversity.

Highways
Despite the appellant having submitted revised plans that successfully addressed the issues raised by the Highways Authority, the Inspector concluded that these would not overcome the fundamental concern regarding the accessibility of the site by refuse vehicles.

Infrastructure/Affordable Housing
The Inspector was unable to conclude that the proposal would make appropriate provision for affordable housing.

Birmingham, Birmingham City Council (800 dwellings) – Allowed

An inspector has allowed an appeal for 800 new homes on an unallocated greenfield site in Birmingham. This despite the fact the Council have an up-to-date development plan (2017) and a five-year supply of housing land.

The Development Plan

The Birmingham Development Plan (BDP) was adopted in 2017.  Like many development plans in large urban areas, it allocates very little land for housing. It is heavily reliant on windfalls. But the City Council argued that a 35-ha greenfield site could not be a windfall and should not be allowed to come forward after a newly adopted plan. The site was the North Worcestershire Golf Course, until it folded a few years ago. The City Council argued the site could not be a windfall as it was promoted unsuccessfully through the development plan process. The Inspector disagreed concluding the Council’s approach was wrong and its interpretation of the NPPF was “misguided”. The definition of windfalls in the NPPF imposes no size limit, and the NPPF (2019) now makes no reference to them being mainly PDL sites. Any unallocated site that comes forward, even large greenfield sites are still of course windfalls. The truth is that the BDP is heavily reliant on windfall sites, something the Council ultimately failed to recognise.

Five Year Supply

There is a lot of residential development taking place in Birmingham right now. The City Council are not shy in talking this up. The Appellant argued there was not a 5-year supply, but the Inspector rejected this, as did the Secretary of State.  Most of the supply was very difficult to undermine as it is actually under construction or has detailed consent. But in running a 5-year supply, the Appellant was able to expose the troubled nature of Birmingham’s housing supply.

Affordable Housing

There is virtually no net delivery of new affordable homes in Birmingham once one takes into account losses under Right to Buy. The City Council are very keen to highlight the fact they have their own affordable housing delivery operation. But its success is completely cancelled out by Right to Buy. The Appellant called an affordable housing witness, who asserted that net affordable housing delivery in Birmingham had “virtually collapsed”. The City Council elected not to challenge this evidence and so this statement became agreed evidence.

Family Housing

Another problem with privately rented schemes and other city centre housing schemes is they don’t delivery family friendly housing. Bloor’s development will be almost exclusively family friendly housing set with a large public park in the middle. In the BDP, the City Council removed a site from the Green Belt for 6,000 houses – intended to be family friendly housing. The Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell objected, and the Government intervened at his request, suspending the adoption of the plan. After much delay, the Government eventually deciding to allow the plan through. But that site is within 13 different ownerships and has stalled, with no real progress having been made at all.

Open Space and Ecology

The City Council’s reasons for refusal objected to the principle of an unallocated site coming forward and the loss of open space and ecology. Once the appeal was lodged, the Appellant amended the scheme to offer more open space and ecological improvements.  Officers then advised members to drop the second reason for refusal, which they agreed to do. The Inspector and the Secretary of State agreed to accept the amendment under the Wheatcroft principle.

Milborne St. Andrew, North Dorset District Council (30 dwellings) – Dismissed

An appeal made by Lewis Wyatt Construction against North Dorset’s decision to refuse planning permission for 30 dwellings has been dismissed by the Inspector. The main issues at the appeal was whether the proposed density & layout, and the successful integration of the affordable dwellings, would have an adverse impact on the living conditions of neighbouring residents.

The Inspector had no issues with the proposed density of development, nor any issues with the layout of affordable housing.

Noise
Weighing against the proposal were the noise disturbances likely to arise from the 10 proposed car parking spaces. The Inspector noted nearby residents were likely to experience unacceptable disturbance by vehicle movements on this part of the estate. When weighing the planning balance, the Inspector concluded the adverse impact (noise disturbance) upon the living conditions of neighbouring residents significantly and demonstrably outweighed the benefits of the scheme.

Harlow, Harlow District Council (30 dwellings) – Dismissed

An appeal made by Mrs J Ghadami of Netteswell Limited against the decision of Harlow Borough Council to refused 30 dwellings has been dismissed as the adverse impacts of granting planning permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the NPPF taken as a whole.

Supply of Housing
The Inspector failed to confirm whether the authority could demonstrate a 5YHLS. The council stated that they could which was contested by the appellant. The Inspector stated that even if the council could not demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply, paragraph 11 of the NPPF says that in such instances planning 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 NPPF taken as a whole or specific policies in the NPPF indicate that development should be restricted. The impacts are outlined below.

Affordable Housing
The Inspector stated that the schemes provision of 10 affordable dwellings on previously developed land in an urban area carried some weight in favour of the development. Paragraph 117 of the NPPF requires an effective use of land and favours the use of previously developed land which also generates some support for the proposal.

Living Conditions
The appellant argued that there would be no impact to the living conditions of occupants of surrounding dwellings. However, the Inspector indicated that this implies a lack of harm rather than a benefit and therefore carried neutral weight. The Inspector also stated in their conclusion that there would also be harm to the living conditions of future occupants of the scheme itself.

Character and Appearance
The Inspector found that the development would harm the character and appearance of the area. Moreover, that it would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, causing harm, albeit less than substantial, to its significance as a heritage asset. The Inspector also stated that the development would harm a non-designated heritage asset.