In approving the scheme at Adanac Park, inspector Clive Sproule focused heavily on the government’s Planning for Growth guidance, stating that "the need to support economic growth is determinate in this case".
Test Valley Borough Council rejected the application for the 12,800sq metre hospital in Feburary, claiming it would breach its saved 2006 local plan policy which allocates 30 hectares of land at the site for high quality office, research or manufacturing uses.
Following the government’s publication of Planning for Growth in March, planning consultancy Turley Associates wrote to the local authority asking it to reconsider its decision.
But the council continued to fight the appeal based on its longer term objectives for the site, which is already home to Ordnance Survey’s headquarters.
Last week, the inspector overruled the council saying that development, which would create 400 direct jobs and another 120 indirectly, would meet the objectives sought by the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire, national planning policy PPS4 and Planning for Growth.
Sproule said health jobs would be expected to have the same degree of stability as headquarters offices and other B1 developments and it is highly likely that these jobs would be realised in the near future.
"There is no guarantee that any future policy compliant proposal for Plot 5 would deliver as many jobs and if it does, it may be towards 2026," he said.
Turley Associates, which acted for landowner the trustees of the Barker Mill Estates, welcomed the ruling. Stuart Irvine, director in the Southampton office, said it showed that inspectors are backing schemes that will generate jobs now rather than holding off for potentially higher jobs in the future.
"This decision ensures that in a period of economic downturn opportunities to bring forward development are not frustrated by local authorities that stand in the way of inward investment", he said.
Irvine added that the consultancy is using Planning for Growth "pretty extensively" in making the case for other planning applications and appeals.
The inspector's report is available here