Employment land loss agreed in quantitative terms

The construction of up to 34 dwellings on an employment site in Berkshire has been allowed to proceed despite the council's claim that it would adversely affect employment land supply in quantitative and qualitative terms.

Outline planning permission had been granted in 2012 for a mixed use scheme on the former factory site and permitted up to 79 dwellings and Class B1 floorspace. The council claimed that the proposed housing would reduce the land available for employment development and highlighted the conclusions of an employment land study which indicated a need to provide 51,000m2 of industrial and warehouse space. It also argued that qualitative factors were relevant and asserted that there was a need to maintain a range of sizes, types and location of employment sites. The appellant, in agreement with the council, demonstrated that since 2006 there had been a cumulative increase in Class B space of over 3,600m2.

In accepting that the scheme complied with a core strategy policy which sought to prevent the net loss of employment floorspace, the inspector was not convinced by the council’s claim that it would compromise the range of employment sites and buildings in qualitative terms. In so concluding he did acknowledge that neither of the assessments provided by the council and appellant were particularly compelling in terms of the supply and demand for light industrial space given the divergent inputs and outputs which could not easily be reconciled. The appellant had not provided cogent evidence to demonstrate that developing the site for employment purposes would be unviable but this did not mean the appeal should be dismissed. The site occupied a sustainable location and development for housing would improve its current appearance.

Inspector: Lloyd Rogers; Inquiry

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