Safeguarded green belt site release rejected despite inadequate land supply

The development of a site in Lancashire which had been removed from the green belt and safeguarded for housing provided certain criteria were met was rejected notwitshstanding the council's failure to demonstrate an adequate supply of residential land.

The council’s local plan supported the release of safeguarded sites before 2027 if certain triggers were met. The first was where less than 80 per cent of the housing target after five years had not been met. This could not be assessed until 2017, the inspector held, after the first five years of the plan had passed. The second trigger relating to a review after 10 years was not relevant, and the final trigger could only apply if there was a greater need for housing than anticipated. While there was a pressing need for more affordable housing this did not justify releasing the land now when the majority of houses on the site would be open market. Nor had the council decided to increase the total numbers required in the borough.

Given that the council could demonstrate only 4.8 years' supply of housing, the shortfall was significant, the inspector determined. But the local plan was intended to promote the most sustainable forms of development which currently did not include safeguarded land. The loss of high quality agricultural land and concerns about a mechanism for ensuring the tenure of affordable housing as delivered, together with the loss of countryside, led the appeal to be rejected.

Inspector: Clive Sproule; Inquiry

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