The council stated that it had produced a housing mix position statement which indicated a need for a greater number of smaller market homes and set out the proportions of differing houses for appropriate sites. Of the 29 open market homes proposed the council stated that only four would have three bedrooms with the remainder having four or five bedrooms. This would fail to meet the need for smaller properties, it alleged.
The appellant in contrast argued that the scheme had been designed to meet housing needs arising in the local area and the council’s estimates related to the whole of the district. They were therefore unrepresentative and overly simplistic as there was little correlation between the size of a property and the number of people living within it since many people aspired to live in the largest property they could.
An inspector agreed that both approaches had some merit but in her opinion the council’s evidence was more compelling since it was based on data from a housing market assessment. Coupled to on-going updating of the information it provided the best available evidence for establishing the right mix of dwellings to meet local housing need. On this basis the greater proportion of four and five bedroom properties failed to accord with the council’s housing objectives.
In examining the proposed layout the inspector agreed that it departed from the principles set out within a design and access statement which accompanied the outline application. The footprint of dwellings had been increased but in her view their configuration and garden spaces were not fundamentally unsuited to the location.
Nonetheless, from certain directions the views into the site gave the impression of an inappropriately urban character and this was due in part to the larger properties sited on four plots which had limited separation distance from their flank walls. Thus increasing the proportion of four and five bedroom properties had translated into an unacceptable layout which failed to respect the edge of settlement location of the site.
Inspector Jessica Graham; Hearing