The secretary of state agreed with the inspector that the housing land supply position was uncertain because the council’s site allocations plan was not due for adoption until December 2017 at the earliest. However, he noted that the available evidence, based on a December 2015 draft strategic housing land availability assessment, pointed to a serious shortfall of supply over the next two years, heavy dependence on sites without planning permission and reliance on sites currently in other uses.
Overall, he agreed with the inspector’s conclusion that the site allocations plan timescale meant there was no policy to show how delivery of any houses, never mind the volume required, would actually be secured. A safety margin of 2,262 dwellings could soon be whittled away when realism was applied and the council could not show a robust five-year supply, he held. He agreed with the inspector that the solution was to deliver homes immediately, including much needed affordable housing.
Development plan policy sought to safeguard the site to meet longer-term development needs. As its eventual development was envisaged in the policy, the secretary of state considered that the appropriate test to apply was whether any adverse impacts of granting permission now would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against NPPF policies as a whole.
He agreed with the inspector that, as the council had allocated the appeal site for housing in the draft site allocations plan, it should be regarded as sustainable and suitable for housing in accordance with the core strategy’s settlement and spatial strategies. In terms of impact on the village’s character and identity, he agreed with the inspector that it did not have a single distinct form and was readily capable of accommodating change.
Inspector: Kenneth Barton; Inquiry