Lack of objective housing needs assessment leads to site release

The provision of up to 120 dwellings in Gloucestershire has been sanctioned by an inspector who agreed that a local planning authority could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land.

In determining the appeal the inspector placed significant weight on the fact that the council had not undertaken an objectively assessed needs (OAN) assessment and up until the start of the inquiry had relied on the secretary of state’s proposed changes to a draft regional strategy which had been revoked. The proposed changes adopted a constrained approach to sub-national household projections. The national planning practice guidance advised that national household projections should form the starting point but these needed to be amended to reflect local factors including previous under-supply and affordability. The appellants had gone further and assessed long-term employment trends using a recognised mathematical model and this added to the predicted annual demand for new housing. Applying a 20 per cent buffer for persistent under-supply, the inspector decided that the annualised housing requirement was likely to exceed 400 units and this meant that a five-year supply of land could not be demonstrated.

There were serious problems of affordability in the district and the scheme would deliver much needed social and open market housing. These were substantial benefits which could be met within a landscape without special designation. The majority of the site did not involve high quality agricultural land and the impact on the setting of listed buildings and a conservation area would be less than substantial. The loss of public and some private views did not tip the planning balance against the scheme.

Inspector: Sara Morgan; Inquiry

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