Two of the main issues related to the scheme’s location and the existence or otherwise of a five-year supply of housing land in the council’s area. The inspector noted that although the site adjoined the town’s development boundary, it was in open countryside where adopted local plan policies strictly controlled development.
He also observed that housing targets were already nearly met through completions and permissions just halfway through the plan period. Supporting the council's approach to windfalls, he saw little justification for the development of agricultural land. He also found that the site was on the wrong side of an automated railway crossing on which the proper functioning of the town’s traffic circulation system depended.
On the five-year supply issue, the inspector agreed that in light of Shropshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government , the position on objectively assessed need (OAN) for housing needed reconsidering because the adopted plan's assessment was out of date.
After considering the latest evidence on OAN, and specifically on rates of development, affordability and jobs growth, he supported the council’s position in all respects except on historic rates of development, where he felt it had based its approach on the wrong criteria and failed to comply with national Planning Practice Guidance. However, even with an increased requirement for this element, he concluded that a five-year supply could still be shown.
Inspector: Ian Radcliffe; Hearing