Affordable housing appropriate in green belt

The erection of 27 affordable houses in the Kent green belt was secured, an inspector deciding that it did not comprise an inappropriate form of development.

200-001-284 (Image Credit: Robinson Escott Planning LLP)
200-001-284 (Image Credit: Robinson Escott Planning LLP)

The site adjoined a settlement boundary and part of it lay within the metropolitan green belt and High Weald AONB. The housing association promoting the scheme highlighted the results of a strategic housing land availability assessment which identified the site as being suitable as an affordable housing exception site. The properties would be rented to people in need and with a local connection to the area. The council claimed that there was no guarantee that the houses would not subsequently be sold to tenants thereby removing them from the affordable dwelling category.

The inspector noted recent changes in housing legislation which afforded the opportunity to tenants to purchase their properties from social landlords and local authorities which had resulted in a tension with national and local planning policy which sought to ensure that affordable housing remained affordable in perpetuity. Nonetheless, few of the appellant’s other properties in the area had been sold to tenants largely as a result of the high property prices and the low incomes of the tenants. A planning obligation submitted by the appellant would ensure as far as reasonably practical that the dwellings would remain available to meet a local need and consequently it comprised an appropriate form of development in the green belt.

With regard to the impact on the character of the AONB, the whole of the village fell within the protected area. The settlement retained its ‘forest village’ character reflected in the dense woodland and its hilltop location. The scale and design of the properties would match the local vernacular and it would have little impact on long distance views and maintain the ‘remote’ and secretive woodland and heathland character. In so concluding the inspector also held that various financial contributions sought by the council failed to meet the community infrastructure levy tests.

Inspector Joanna Reid; Hearing


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