Chris Young Wins Major Housing Appeal Before The Secretary Of State Despite Neighbourhood Plan Area

Wed, 21 Jan 2015

Warwickshire based developer Rainier Properties Ltd have secured permission at appeal for 135 new homes on a parkland site located at the edge of the village of Burbage in Leicestershire. The company sought planning permission from Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council for the housing scheme in 2013. But the permission was refused. The Council has an up to date Core Strategy, which allocates most of the land needed for housing development up to 2030 and claimed to have a five year supply of housing land.

Rainier took advice from Chris Young of No5 Chambers and appealed by way of public inquiry. The inquiry began in February 2014, but was adjourned because of the lack of time to debate housing land supply issues. Chris took the unusual step of requesting that the Inspector invite the Secretary of State to recover the decision for his own determination because it involved a controversial issue about the so-called ‘Liverpool’ and ‘Sedgefield’ methods of dealing with the accumulated housing shortfall.  Both the Inspector and the Secretary of State agreed and the case was recovered for Ministerial determination. The inquiry reconvened for a further week in June 2014, by which stage the Council conceded they did not have a five year supply of housing land.

The decision was issued by the Secretary of State on 18 November 2014.  Following a positive recommendation from Inspector David Cullingford, the Secretary of State granted planning permission for the housing development.  The decision is now free from legal challenge and the site  is to be shortly sold by Rainier to a house builder. 

In making his recommendation to the Secretary of State, Inspector Cullingford raised concerns about the development of the appeal site which comprised the parkland surrounding Sketchley House.  The Inspector had concerns about the impact on the landscape, especially as the scheme would “intrude into the countryside beyond the strong boundary created by the lime tree avenue” leading up to Sketchley House, which he described as “majestic”.  The Inspector also observed that the “perception of parkland would be radically altered by the intended [housing] estate” and “the character of the lime tree avenue would also alter, part of it being beside houses and front gardens rather than the remnant parkland.”  But he also praised the attractive layout and low density of the scheme which had been the subject of masterplanning, landscape and ecology work by FPCR and Cerda Planning.  The Inspector then weighed the harm, including harm to ecology and the loss of agricultural land with the benefits of the scheme. These included the ability of the scheme to address the Council’s shortfall in its five year supply of housing and the delivery of much needed affordable housing and housing for the elderly. The Inspector concluded “that these outcomes represent significant economic and social benefits... envisaged by the Framework  for the planning system in delivering ‘sustainable development.’ The Secretary of State agreed, noting the need for affordable housing was “acute”.

The Secretary of State acknowledged that the Burbage Neighbourhood Area had been designated as a Neighbourhood Plan area. But he also noted that there had been no evidence of progression beyond designation of the area in early 2014. The decision was reported in Planning alongside the Secretary of State’s decision at Winslow in Buckinghamshire under the heading “Mixed Fortunes for Proposals affected by Neighbourhood Plans”. The Neighbourhood Plan at Winslow was more advanced, and that decision is now being challenged in the courts by other members of No5’s Planning team. 

Click here to view the Inspectors Report

Click here to view the Secretary of State’s decision

Click here to view Chris Young’s profile

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