Tue, 02 Aug 2011
Two housing schemes in Hinckley have been granted planning permission following appeals to the Planning Inspectorate.
The two sites involve open land on the periphery of Hinckley. In each instance the Council had refused permission notwithstanding an absence of a 5 year land supply for housing, but buoyed by three very recent appeal decisions that had upheld their stance despite the same land supply deficit. In part these three earlier decisions were the result of Inspectors seeking to apply a Core Strategy, adopted in 2009, which was found to be sound even though there would be a shortfall in housing delivery until post 2017/18. However, the housing delivery rates have since 2009 consistently fallen in the borough (now to less than 3.6 years) and the programme of other development plan documents and developments, upon which the core strategy Inspector relied to address the acknowledged housing land supply shortfall, had slipped significantly and without the Council taking any adequate steps to rectify it.
In both appeals harm to landscape character (among other reasons) was argued as a reason to resist the proposed development.
In the first appeal at Burbage, for 62 houses, there was some query as to whether the site fell within the urban area, under the Council’s own landscape character assessment. However, the Inspector found that it shared many of the same landscape characteristics of the peripheral landscape and whilst there would be some adverse impact from the proposed development it was limited and was significantly outweighed by the need for development arising from the housing land supply shortfall.
In the second case, on land adjacent to Hinckley Golf Club, the site was subject to a “green wedge” designation. This designation was established to fulfil a series of functions including the prevention of merging of settlements. The appellants argued that the residential development proposed would have no detrimental affect upon the green wedge as it was an insignificant component of the overall green wedge and played no material role in any of its defined functions. The Inspector agreed that the development of the site would not reduce the current minimum distance between the settlements concerned. Indeed, the Council was forced to concede at the inquiry that the land was not part of the minimum land necessary to fulfil all the principles of the green wedge either on its own or part of the wider green wedge. Hence, whilst there would be changes to the physical appearance of the site, these could be mitigated and the Inspector rejected the contention that there would be inevitable pressure to release other parts of the green wedge if this site were released.
The recent experience of appeals in Hinckley demonstrates that simple reliance upon an absence of a 5 year land supply is not sufficient. Three appeals have been dismissed notwithstanding that position. However, by careful analysis and exploration of the relevant issues it has been possible to successfully promote these two sites for housing which should provide a welcome boost to the provision of housing in this part of the East Midlands.
The No5 Chambers Counsel acting on these matters were Peter Goatley (the Burbage site) and Ian Dove QC (land adjacent to Hinckley Golf Course).