Housing supply shortfall tips balance in favour of employment land release

A development of employment and residential units on an industrial estate in Northumberland was sustainable, an inspector concluded, because of the shortage in housing land and the adequate supply of employment space.

200-000-818 (Image Credit: Indigo Planning Ltd)
200-000-818 (Image Credit: Indigo Planning Ltd)

The five hectare site contained poor quality buildings, vacant since 2011, and the appellants proposed the use of approximately three and a half hectares for housing. The council accepted that it had less than a two year supply of housing land and did not dispute the appellant’s claim that up to 120 houses could be delivered over the next five years. It nonetheless asserted that the site should be retained for employment use, citing inadequate marketing to prove that it was no longer needed.

An employment land study indicated that the area had in excess of 25 years’ supply of industrial land even after omitting a large strategic employment area and those required for prestige industries, an inspector noted. The site had been marketed since 2011 with no defined asking price and while three parties initially expressed an interest none had made an offer. The large supply of employment land, coupled with the need to substantially increase housing land, supported allowing the appeal which would stimulate economic growth, provide affordable units and improve the quality of previously developed land.

Inspector Martin Whitehead; Inquiry

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