Barrister and QC from No5 Chambers secures victory for Redrow Homes – decision handed down 14 May 2013

Jeremy Cahill QC of No5 Chambers has secured victory for his client, developer Redrow Homes, in an appeal against Tewkesbury Borough Council, which had previously refused to grant planning permission for a development of up to 120 dwellings on land adjacent to Gretton Road in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. 

Mr Cahill QC submitted a number of arguments, including that planning permission should be granted given that Tewkesbury Borough Council could not demonstrate an up-to-date 5-year supply of deliverable housing; the Council’s household projections dated back to the mid 1990s. Christina Downes, the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, acknowledged (in the light of the Secretary of State’s decision at Bishop’s Cleeve) that there was a “serious short-term housing land supply deficit” in Tewkesbury District, and this was an important material consideration in the development’s favour.  

Tewkesbury Borough Council sought to reject the proposed development for a number of reasons, including arguing that it was located outside the settlement boundary, it would be harmful to the character and appearance of the landscape and its form and layout were not appropriate in relation to the prevalent urban morphology of the area.  

Two parcels of land comprise the site: land between Gretton Road and Greet Road which would be used for housing and open space and land to the north of Winchcombe Road and east of Greet Road for sport and recreational use.  Outline planning permission was granted for residential development, vehicular access from Gretton Road, public open space, facilities for sport and recreation and other associated infrastructure on land adjacent to Gretton Road, Winchcombe.  

The Inspector decided that the Council’s plans for deliverable housing gave rise to a supply of 2.7 years and a shortage of 2,912 homes. This figure allowed for the Secretary of States’ decision relating to Bishop’s Cleeve and the granting of planning permission to Bloor Homes, who had been represented by Ian Dove QC earlier this year.  The Bloor Homes’ proposed development was taken as recognition by Tewkesbury Borough Council that Winchcombe offered a settlement suitable for development to meet the housing shortfall.  

Although the Redrow Homes’ site is not within Winchcombe’s existing development boundary, the Council’s inability to demonstrate a 5 year housing supply outweighed this argument.  The Inspector concluded that the Redrow Homes’ development was required as a credible means of meeting the housing needs of Tewkesbury Borough.  

The Inspector had made site visits during the course of April 2013 and considered the effect the proposed development might have on the character of the area – a designated Special Landscape Area (SLA) – viewing the site from a number of points, including the Cotswold Way, the Gloucestershire Way and the Wychavon Way.   Both Redrow Homes and Tewkesbury Borough Council had conducted Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments (LVIAs) of the area which is the setting for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). 

Tewkesbury Borough Council argued that the development would not be in keeping with the field pattern of the area but the Inspector ruled that other, approved developments had already gone away from this.   She also decided that the proposed wildflower meadow and informal recreation area would be of benefit to the area, adding to its biodiversity, and overall the development would be in keeping with the urban morphology of Winchcombe and integrate well.   

The Inspector did observe that there would be an adverse impact on the adjacent Special Landscape Area (SLA) because, while the development would retain much of the current hedgerows, it would cause a “loss of openness” that is an “important characteristic of the vale landscape”.   However, she believed that the impact would be “of limited significance, especially in the longer term”, particularly with additional planting that could occur during the life of the development. 

There would also be “significant harm to the landscape of the AONB”. However the Inspector ruled that the landscape factors had to be balanced against the significant economic, social and environmental benefits of the proposal. In conclusion, the balance of considerations was “clearly in favour of granting planning permission”.

The decision is the first to emerge in this area since the decision of Mr Justice Males in Tewkesbury Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2013] EWHC 286 (Admin), and again confirms the importance of authorities meeting five year housing land supply requirements.

Jeremy Cahill QC was instructed by Mr P Stacey of Turley Associates.  Paul Cairnes acted on behalf of Tewkesbury Borough Council. Ian Dove QC acted for Bloor Homes in relation to the proposed development at Greet Road, prior to the reconsideration and grant by the Council earlier this year.  

Appeal Ref: APP/G1630/A/12/2183317 was successfully made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The developer will financially contribute towards education facilities and play space.

Jeremy Cahill, QC is head of the Planning and Environment Group at No5 Chambers.  This set offers a national planning service and is home to “some of the finest barristers in the country”, according to Chambers UK 2011.  Chambers explains that No5’s domination of the Midlands’ circuit is founded upon “a specialist team that can act on any planning issue that comes its way” and that Jeremy Cahill QC has “a huge following thanks to his advocacy skills and brilliant understanding of the planning system”.