Homes allowed after gap policy ruled out of date

Lack of a five-year land supply and the resultant outdated status of a strategic gap policy have led to plans for up to 100 homes being allowed on a site in Hampshire.

200-005-641 (Image Credit: Gladman Developments Ltd)
200-005-641 (Image Credit: Gladman Developments Ltd)

The inspector considered whether a five per cent or 20 per cent undersupply buffer should be applied to the five-year housing requirement under paragraph 47 of the NPPF. The purpose of buffers is to ensure choice and competition in the land market and to provide a realistic prospect of achieving planned supply, he noted. As the borough had persistently underperformed, he decided that a 20 per cent buffer should be applied, including to a shortfall accrued in previous years.

After reviewing some of the sites planned to deliver housing within the next five years, he decided that some of the completion rates predicted appeared unrealistic. On this basis, he held, the council could only demonstrate 4.25 years’ supply. Given the significant shortfall that had to be addressed, he was not convinced the council was on the "cusp" of demonstrating an adequate supply.

The appeal site formed part of a strategic gap. In accordance with Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes Ltd [2016], the inspector decided that this policy restricted the supply of housing and was out of date, given the five-year supply position. He found that strategic gaps in the area, which were relatively extensive and tightly drawn, limited the choice of sites for housing.

In his opinion, the development would not appear out of context, its impact on views would be limited and it would have no significant impact on the identities of the two settlements which the gap sought to keep separate. The scheme would deliver strong social benefits by improving the supply of affordable and open market housing and occupied a sustainable location, he concluded.

The inspector made a partial award of costs to the appellant over its organisation of the inquiry. The inquiry room was too small to accommodate the main parties and the considerable number of people who wished to attend, he heard. No alternative venue had been identified before the inquiry started and, although another room was found, the proceedings had to be adjourned for two months because one of the council’s witnesses was unavailable.

He decided that the council had been wrong to have assumed that a public session could be held on one evening in order to reduce the number of people attending during the day. The costs of attending on the first day were awarded to the appellant.

Inspector: Jonathan Bore; Inquiry

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