Hospital decision cites growth goal

An inspector has overruled a council's decision to reject plans for a large private hospital, citing in his decision a government statement that urged decision-makers to treat applications that secure economic growth favourably.

Test Valley Borough Council rejected the application for the private hospital at Adanac Park in Southampton in February, saying that it would breach local plan policy, which allocates the site for employment uses.

But inspector Clive Sproule overruled the council, saying that the development, which is intended to create more than 500 jobs, would meet economic objectives including those in the government's Planning for Growth statement.

The statement, published in March, declared that the government expects "the answer to development and growth should wherever possible be 'yes', except where this would compromise the key sustainable development principles".

Decentralisation minister Greg Clark said it would be a "material consideration in local planning decisions with immediate effect".

Since then, a number of appeals have been granted, citing the document as support. Inspectors have explicitly referred to the document in appeal decisions including a Tesco superstore in Eccles in May, plans for 530 homes at Picket Piece in Andover in June, a mixed-use scheme at Binhamy Farm in Bude and a 300-home development in Clayton-le-Woods, Lancashire, both in July.

York City Council planners also drew on the statement to back plans for a 53-metre high observation wheel in the city, which won planning permission last month.

Stuart Irvine, director at consultancy Turley Associates, which acted for the landowner in the Adanac Park case, said the firm is using the statement "extensively" in planning applications and appeals. This includes citing it in defence of plans for 200 homes and a park-and-ride site at Pitt Manor in Winchester at an inquiry last month.

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