Developer claims council failed to apply weighted balance

A developer succeeded in their appeal against refusal of permission for 95 new homes in Surrey, an inspector agreeing the development of the reserve housing site adjacent a village, on countryside beyond the green belt, was sustainable development that would contribute to addressing a housing shortfall. The developer, however, lost their claim for costs.

The inspector considered all the issues raised and found no adverse impacts in terms of countryside loss, character and appearance of the area, the setting of listed buildings, capacity of the local road network and highway safety. In the light also of the shortage of much needed housing land and the fact the local plan identified the site as suitable for future housing, the inspector concluded the conflict with timescales for development in the plan were outweighed by the NPPF presumption in favour of sustainable development and allowed the appeal.

The inspector refused a claim for costs by the developer who challenged the council’s refusal in respect of density and layout as a makeweight reason, suggesting the higher test that planning permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits should have been the decision-making approach taken by the council. The inspector concluded that despite it being a reason added by members, it was a substantive reason for refusing the application and the decision might have been the same even had it undertaken the balancing exercise.

Inspector: Andrew Dawe; Hearing

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