Village plan held no bar to housing plans

Conflict with a draft neighbourhood plan has not stopped the secretary of state from granting permission for 39 homes at a site in Northamptonshire.

200-004-278 (Image Credit: Turner Morum LLP)
200-004-278 (Image Credit: Turner Morum LLP)

In producing the neighbourhood plan, the parish council and a local residents’ forum had undertaken a process of continuous community engagement, including cooperation from the borough council. The plan had been through consultation with statutory bodies and submitted for examination. In line with the draft plan, permission had been granted for 280 homes as part of a mixed-use allocation.

While recommending some modifications, the examiner’s report agreed that the neighbourhood plan should be put to a referendum. The inspector concluded that since the plan was in draft form, it did not attract the weight accorded under section 38(6) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. However, she found that it should carry significant weight, given the stage it had reached.

Despite substantial local concern, she could identify no resultant planning harm to the village community or local services. The site was visually contained by hedgerows and the village had a wide range of services that could support the new population, she found.

After recovering the appeal and taking account of further representations following the close of the inquiry, the secretary of state agreed that the council’s estimate of new homes on two strategic urban extensions was too optimistic, so more land was needed. He decided that the scale of the appeal proposal was not so significant as to jeopardise future development in accordance with the community plan.

Inspector: Wenda Fabian; Inquiry

Comment: The local community in this case considered itself under siege from developers seeking sites for new homes, with the council unable to show a five-year supply. The secretary of state’s decision contrasts sharply with his predecessor’s stance on schemes that conflicted with relatively advanced neighbourhood plans during the period preceding this year’s general election. 

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