Bromsgrove District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for housing development overturned at appeal

Thu, 09 Feb 2012

Jeremy Cahill QC of No5 Chambers secured victory on Friday 3rd February for his client, developer Maplebrom LLP, in an appeal against Bromsgrove District Council, which had previously refused to grant outline planning permission for a development of up to 212 dwellings on land at St Godwald’s Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. 
The Appeal Inquiry not only overturned the District Council’s decision - allowing the appeal - it also awarded costs to Maplebrom LLP as the Planning Inspector believed that the Council had behaved unreasonably, causing Maplebrom LLP unnecessary expense in the appeal process. 
Mr Cahill QC, who was instructed by Peter Frampton of Framptons Town Planning Consultants, submitted a number of arguments, including that planning permission should be granted given that Bromsgrove District Council could not demonstrate an up-to-date 5-year supply of deliverable housing. 
The Inquiry upheld this line, pointing out that the Government’s Ministerial Statement ‘Planning for Growth’ expects local planning authorities to allow development and growth wherever possible. The housing land supply situation in Bromsgrove had been described as “in crisis” by another planning Inspector in early 2011 and Mr Cahill had suggested that Bromsgrove District Council was ignoring national policy. 
Bromsgrove District Council had claimed that Maplebrom LLP’s proposal would also generate levels of traffic that would impact on the surrounding highway network and local amenities and residents. However, Maplebrom LLP had proposed mitigation works, including a signal controlled junction to replace a mini-roundabout junction to the west of St Godwald’s Road in a local centre with shops and other businesses. This had been approved by the Highway Authority Worcester County Council. 
The Inquiry’s Inspector, Jane Miles, visited the site of the proposed development on several occasions at different times to judge the traffic levels for herself. She agreed with the Highway Authority Worcester County Council, reporting: “I conclude that the proposal would not conflict with the relevant SP (Worcestershire County Council Structure Plan), LP (Local Plan), or national policy and that its effects in terms of traffic and the amenities of existing residents would not be so great at to justify refusing the proposal.” 
The proposed housing site is close to Bromsgrove railway station and it was previously agreed that Maplebrom LLP would contribute towards improvements at the station as it was anticipated that new residents would be likely to use the public transport on offer. However, the Highways Agency and the developer disagreed as to the amount of that contribution. Mr Cahill QC had argued for his client that £150,500 was sufficient, whereas the HA sought double the amount at £318,000. 
The Inspector upheld Mr Cahill QC’s argument, finding that the contribution of £150,500 “would be fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the proposed development.” 
Appeal Ref: APP/P18505/A/11/2152467 was successfully made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Maplebrom LLP’s proposed development is for up to 212 dwellings on land at St Godwald’s Road with associated open space and infrastructure including a new vehicular access via Rutherford Road. Up to 35% of the dwellings will be affordable housing. The developer will financially contribute towards education facilities, air quality, bus stops on New Road and Finstall Road, local public footpaths and off-site play space in line with the national and development plan policy framework.
Jeremy Cahill, QC is head of the Planning 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”. 

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