The developer explained that only 55 units in the first phase had been built, of which 36 had been sold, the scheme having stalled twice because of lack of demand. Stating that the development as originally envisaged would not be completed, he requested various amendments to the legal obligation to provide more flexibility in terms of car ownership and occupation of the units as dwellings.
The inspector agreed that in many respects the original agreement was flawed, making reference to designing 20 per cent of the units as car-free and not requiring any affordable housing units until 90 per cent of the total had been built. Moreover, she noted that a variation agreed in 2005 allowed residents aged 55 years and above to occupy the units irrespective of whether they were retired. A young couple with a baby living with a grandparent could comply with this requirement, she reasoned. She agreed to vary the obligation.
In granting the original permission, the secretary of state had imposed a condition stipulating that the site should not be used for any other form of residential development. The inspector understood the highway authority concerns that the remote location would lead to many trips by car. However, she accepted that the conditions and legal agreement were effectively preventing the land from being developed in a beneficial manner. Variations in the terms of the conditions could be sought through a section 73 application or a fresh planning application and this would allow the council to review its position on the site’s future development, she reasoned.
Inspector: Gyllian Grindey; Hearing