Land supply assessment falls short of practice guidance

Planning permission has been granted for a development of up to 47 dwellings in Buckinghamshire, an inspector acknowledging that the council was in a difficult position in not having an up-to-date and adopted development plan and no emerging draft plan.

In defence of its claim that a five-year supply of housing land could be demonstrated the council stated that it had adopted an interim position statement based on the most recent population projections. It accepted that the approach did not comply fully with government policy in the national planning policy framework but asserted that the assessment should be given significant weight because no more authoritative figures were available.

Until the full and objectively assessed need had been established it was not unreasonable of the council to adopt some interim measure, the inspector concluded. But the use of government projections of population was just the starting point and other factors such as changes in demographic behaviour, economic circumstances and household formation rates together with migration and employment creation also had to be factored in. Accordingly, the council’s estimate, while helpful, could only be given limited weight.

Turning to an examination of the estimated need for new housing the inspector rejected the council’s claim that the past deficit of building rates should be assessed from 2007. This ignored the substantial deficit which had accumulated since 2001 and on this basis a 20 per cent buffer was to be preferred. By itself this was sufficient to turn the claimed surplus of 650 units into a deficit of over 100. This was coupled with a significant unmet need for affordable housing.

With regard to the impact on the local landscape. setting of the village, highways and coalescence, these would be relatively modest and outweighed by the need to improve the supply of new housing and deliver economic growth. Development in the countryside was not ruled out where it was necessary to meet a proven need, he held, and the appeal was allowed.

Inspector: John Felgate; Inquiry

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