Inspector finds that the titled balance is engaged by virtue of the absence of a self-build policy within the South Worcestershire development plan

Fri, 04 Sep 2020

The hearing took place remotely on 29 June 2020. It was one of the first hearings undertaken by PINS remotely following the imposition of the lock-down.

The decision was released on 23 July.

The appeal was allowed and planning permission granted for up to 9 self-build dwellings at Corner Mead, Newland Lane, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire.

The local planning authority was Wychavon DC. The South Worcestershire Development Plan was adopted, after a lengthy gestation, in February 2016 (“SWDP”).

At the hearing, it was common ground:

  1. The proposed development would conflict with Policy SWDP2 as it lies outside the defined development boundary and within an area identified as open countryside [#49]; and
  2. The Council could demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing sites.

Importantly, the Inspector found [#50]:

I consider that the Development Plan is out-of-date in respect of self-build housing. There is no reference to self-build housing within Policy SWDP2. Policy SWDP14 addresses the mix and type of market housing to ensure that a range of household demand and needs continue to be accommodated, but does not say anything substantive about self-build housing. In view of the importance attached to provision for self-build housing in the NPPF and PPG, I do not accept the Council’s view that it should be treated simply as a component of general market housing.

Accordingly, the “tilted balance” was engaged as the Council had not demonstrated that it had granted enough permissions to meet the need identified for self-build dwellings. In these circumstances, the Inspector attached substantial weight to the benefit that the proposed development would make a significant contribution to the supply of sites for self-build housing in Wychavon and help the Council to meet its duty under the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015. He found that this was a material consideration of sufficient weight to outweigh the conflict with the SWDP.

This is an important case which can be used by developers to enhance their prospects of obtaining planning permissions for self-build housing in South Worcestershire. But, this window of opportunity will close: the Council is undertaking a Review of the SWDP. This provides an opportunity to add a self-build element to the housing policies so that the SWDP will not be “out of date”.

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