The only issue was whether the change from an employment allocation to housing use was a suitable one in this location. The saved local plan policy had allocated the site since 1999, but a supermarket use had been granted in 2012 and been partially implemented. This change of use represented a fallback position which the inspector held meant that a use at the site, other than employment, could not be ruled out.
The inspector noted there was an oversupply of employment land depicted in recent monitoring reports and therefore held the site was not necessary to meet the local plan’s economic strategy. Equally, no employment use interest had been shown in 18 years. Finally, the site was not allocated in the consultation stage neighbourhood plan, despite a local plan policy stating that such plans would be the tool for identifying employment sites.
In considering the merits of the proposal, the inspector felt the site was a sustainable location for housing development. It adjoined an area of growth set out in the neighbourhood plan and would promote mixed use development. The proposal, he felt, would generate much less traffic than the supermarket use, freeing up capacity on the local road network, which was currently restricting the deliverability of growth. In allowing the appeal, he held the original allocation policy was clearly out of date and the contributions towards addressing the acute shortage of housing and affordable housing need in the area were clear benefits of the scheme.
Inspector: Colin Ball; Hearing