The scheme had originally been dismissed in 2013 (see DCS No 200-001-357) but that dismissal was quashed by order of the high court. The inspector noted the potential benefit from a planning obligation which would enhance existing green spaces and general public support for the proposal. However, it had not been shown that there was no reasonable prospect of the site being used for an allocated employment use. Therefore, this was not a situation where applications for alternative uses of land should be treated only on their merits having regard to market signals and the relative need for different land uses to support sustainable local communities.
The council acknowledged that housing policies in the development plan were out of date but that the council could now demonstrate an up-to-date five-year housing supply, which was not the same as with the previous appeal and this diminished the weight that the inspector attached to the need for housing.
The inspector considered that the site was in a very sustainable location, being close to services and facilities and would be suitable for housing and employment use. The scheme would also make important contributions to the local economy, during construction and after completion. The housing and employment would also perform important social functions.
In this case, taking into account the important role employment land can play in the economic growth of the area and the benefits of having available a high quality large site, it was concluded that on balance these factors far outweighed the need for, and benefits of, the proposed development.
Inspector: Graham Dudley; Inquiry