The ten most studied appeal and call-in decisions in 2016

The government's promise to boost housing supply has been pursued in inspectors' and ministerial decisions during 2016. Seven of the ten most frequently downloaded cases from DCS Ltd's COMPASS online appeals database focused on medium to large-scale housing schemes on greenfield sites.

1. Homes benefits judged to outweigh green belt loss

The benefits of a 1,500-home urban extension to Brockworth in Gloucestershire outweigh green belt harm, the secretary of state concluded in March. The inspector found evidence of high and persistent levels of unmet housing need, recognised the contribution of 600 affordable homes and gave considerable weight to the scheme's economic benefits. In agreeing to release the site, the secretary of state acknowledged support from the three councils preparing the area's emerging joint core strategy and its examiner's preliminary findings in favour of a strategic allocation.

2. Town extension ruled out on setting impact

In August, the secretary of state refused plans for a 1,560-home urban extension on the edge of Aylesbury. A land supply of around three years engaged the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) presumption in favour of sustainable development, but the housing benefits attracted only moderate weight. The scheme was rejected because of its local landscape impact.

3. Affordable homes policy wins single unit contribution

National policy on affordable housing does not outweigh a council's core strategy, an inspector ruled in July on plans for one house in a Surrey village. The appellant relied on a 2014 ministerial statement reinstated by the Court of Appeal in May indicating that contributions should not be sought from small housing developments. But the inspector found the council's policy generally consistent with the NPPF requirement to meet affordable housing needs.

4. Homes allowed despite neighbourhood plan clash

In August, the secretary of state accepted an inspector's advice to approve 40 homes at Haywards Heath, West Sussex, even though they conflicted with policies in two neighbourhood plans. He agreed that lack of a deliverable five-year housing land supply triggered the NPPF presumption in favour of sustainable development and the scheme's adverse impacts would not outweigh the substantial benefits of new market and affordable homes.

5. Homes judged acceptable in urban fringe location

In January, the secretary of state gave "considerable weight" to a five-year land supply shortage in approving 900 homes and community facilities on an unallocated site near Warwick, against an inspector's advice. He agreed that the local landscape was "valued" for NPPF purposes, giving weight to erosion of its pastoral character, but concluded that the scheme's multiple benefits outweighed the harm caused.

6. Urban extension allowed to meet national need

A mixed development including 600 homes on the edge of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire represents a sustainable urban extension, the secretary of state decided in February. He found that a five-year supply of housing land was no reason to oppose the scheme and was satisfied that it would not unduly harm traffic conditions, the setting of heritage assets or the area's character.

7. Outdated town boundary policy held still relevant

A mixed scheme including 189 homes and employment space on the edge of Nantwich, Cheshire, was turned down in August, against an inspector's advice. The secretary of state considered that the inspector was wrong to give out-of-date policies restricting housing development outside the settlement boundary no weight because of a land supply shortage, since the boundary served a sound planning purpose and carried significant weight.

8. Core strategy preferred in greenfield homes verdict

A core strategy trumped a neighbourhood plan in the secretary of state's decision to allow up to 100 homes on greenfield land at Ringmer, East Sussex, in January. He noted the scheme only included 24 more homes than envisaged in the neighbourhood plan and that the core strategy supported 110 dwellings on the site.

9. Tower impact on locality declared acceptable

In February, the secretary of state concluded that a 24-storey building providing 184 flats in London's Swiss Cottage would not have an unacceptable impact. He accepted advice that nearby pedestrian areas would not be adversely affected, changes to a park's microclimate could be mitigated and impact on conservation areas would be outweighed by the benefits.

10. Local policy trumps small sites exemption

In September an inspector ruled that local planning policy took precedence over the 2014 ministerial statement exempting small sites from affordable housing obligations in dismissing plans for eight homes in a village near Cambridge. The scheme's benefits did not outweigh harm to the green belt and the homes should comply with a local plan policy requiring at least 40 per cent to be affordable, he ruled.

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