Thea Osmund-Smith, acted on behalf of the Appellant, David Wilson Homes (Mercia), in promoting a scheme for 68 dwellings in Ellesmere, Shropshire. The appeal was allowed, with the Inspector accepting that Shropshire does not have a five year housing land supply.

The housing supply itself was not challenged, but the requirement on which it was based was. Shropshire calculates its supply using a requirement of 27.500 (taken from the Core Strategy 2006-2026), but the Appellant argued that the figure was out of date, and not in accordance with the Framework and PPG. Accordingly, it did not represent the full objectively assessed need (“FOAN”) as required by Paragraph 47, and because the Council does not know what its FOAN is, then it cannot demonstrate a five year housing land supply.

The Inspector agreed that the requirement did not represent the FOAN, finding at para 34

It is therefore clear that there is no recent evidence in line with the above requirements of the Framework and the PPG that offers any reliable support to the CS housing requirement, which is, in my view out-of-date being based on the RSS. Further, the Council accept that it is not suggested that the CS housing requirement will be the FOAN for their plan review and that the evidence will ultimately tell what their FOAN is. This confirms that the Council are not at the current time sure what its FOAN is and that this work is yet to be undertaken. ?

In support of its argument that that the lack of a FOAN meant the Council could not demonstrate a 5yhls, the Appellant relied on two appeal decisions, Coalville (APP/G2435/W/15/3005052), and Fairford (APP/F1610/A/14/2213318) which both concluded that without an understanding of its FOAN, a LPA cannot demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply. The Appellant didn’t offer any alternative evidence as to what the FOAN might be in this instance. The Council argued that if the Inspector were to deviate from the Core Strategy requirement, then the Appellant must provide an alternative FOAN figure.

The Inspector rejected that argument. He acknowledged that in other cases, Appellants have produced significant levels of information to demonstrate an alternative OAN, but the absence of it in this case did not mean that the Appellant’s arguments in relation to the housing requirement were without merit.

Further, although Shropshire had adopted its allocations plan (SAMDev) as recently as December 2015, it was clear that the examining Inspector was concerned with meeting the requirements in the adopted CS – not in reviewing the objectively assessed need.

Having determined that there was not a five year housing land supply and that paragraph 14 was engaged, the Inspector’s conclusion was that the proposal represents sustainable development as set out in the Framework, when read as a whole because the identified adverse impacts of the scheme and the associated development plan conflict were not sufficient to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the substantial benefits of the proposal.

Thea Osmund-Smith is part of the Planning and Environmental Group at No5 Chambers. Click here to view Thea’s Planning and Environmental profile.