The buildings had formed part of a coach house associated with a grade II listed 19th century house. An adopted core strategy policy stated that the council's requirement for affordable housing contributions from schemes of fewer than five dwellings was to be balanced against local housing need and viability considerations.
The developers claimed that they would only make a one per cent profit on the scheme even without an affordable housing contribution. They also argued that the buildings were of heritage value because they lay within the curtilage of the main dwelling and their preservation should therefore be a high priority.
The inspector recognised that the coach house added interest to a conservation area and the buildings were underused. Although he agreed that the council's strategy deserved support, he found that the sum sought would stall delivery of an open-market home that would help meet government aims for economic recovery.
He went on to award costs to the appellants, finding that the council had adopted an inflexible approach that did not properly reflect its guidance in a supplementary planning document.
Inspector: David Prentis; Hearing