Tue, 29 Jan 2013
In a decision of 15 January 2013, the Inspector allowed Redrow Homes’ appeal against the decision of Daventry District Council to refuse outline planning permission for a residential development of up to 150 dwellings and associated works in Moulton, Northamptonshire.
The main issues to be decided, and on which Ian Dove QC made successful submissions related to the effect of the proposal on purpose, character and appearance; housing land supply (HLS) issues and CIL contributions.
It was agreed at the inquiry that there is a shortfall of 2941 dwellings based on the Regional Plan’s requirement of 540 dwellings per annum and the 2999 completions that took place between 2001 – 2012. A 20% buffer has also been agreed to be applicable as a result of Daventry DC’s persistent undersupply. The Council was only able to demonstrate a 2.15 year HLS including recent permissions granted on appeal.
The Council is currently preparing a Joint Core Strategy with the West Northamptonshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee, based on which, there is a much lower housing requirement for the equivalent period. The Council explained at the inquiry that the figures in the Regional Plan are now unreliable as they were based on pre-recession evidence. The Inspector could not accord the approach taken for the Council as there still remains a lot of objections to the Joint Core Strategy and the phasing approach is yet to be tested. Policies such as HS24 and HS22 can only be afforded limited weight as pursuant to para 49 NPPF since they are not up-to-date. The Inspector deemed the deficit in housing provision to be a strong material consideration in favour of the appeal.
Green Wedge and Rural Access Area
The Council sought to rely upon a recent decision at Coalville, Leicestershire in which it was concluded that the Green Wedge continued to serve a useful and much valued planning purpose, even though the period covered by the relevant Local Plan ended in 2006. The Inspector acknowledged this decision yet distinguished it on the facts as the current scheme intrudes only to a very limited extent.
The Council successfully argued that the proposal would fail to maintain the open character of part of the Rural Access Area and therefore established conflict with policy EN11. This said, no harm arising was found to have a significant effect on the wider landscape.
Character and Appearance
Despite objection from local residents and the Parish Council, there was no evidence before the Inspector that indicated that the distinctive character of Moulton would be eroded through the proposed development. Overall the proposal was found to maintain the character and not to significantly harm the visual links from the village towards the surrounding countryside.
The s 106 agreement provisioned for inter alia highways, health and recreational areas. The Inspector was satisfied that each contribution was necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms and that the scale of the contribution is directly, fairly and reasonably related to the development in scale and kind, concluding compliance with Reg 122.
The Inspector concluded, having in mind the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the NPPF, that whilst the proposal will give rise to some harm as a result of the lost countryside within the Rural Access Area, this would be limited by the visual containment of the site and the improved public access to the countryside. Moreover there would be no significant harm to the open character of the Green Wedge or the character and appearance of Moulton, as submitted by the Council. In considering whether the adverse impacts significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, the Inspector placed great weight on the considerable shortfall in HLS and benefits derived from the proposed park, play area and the link to the existing network of public footpaths. Overall the balance was tipped in favour of allowing the appeal and granting planning permission.
Appeal Ref: APP/Y2810/A/12/2178421 Land to the East of Northampton Lane North, Moulton, Northamptonshire NN3 7QW