In a decision letter issued last week, inspector S R G Baird dismissed Gladman Developments’ appeal against East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s decision to refuse its application for up to 380 homes, including up to 25 per cent affordable housing, on land North and East of Mayfields, The Balk, Pocklington.
Dismissing Gladman’s appeal, the inspector found that the authority could demonstrate a five-year housing land supply and that, therefore, the development plan is "neither absent, silent nor out-of-date".
Gladman had argued that the local planning authority could demonstrate a housing land supply of 4.86 years, with the appellant and local planning authority differing on whether a number of sites without planning permission and allocated in the local plan could be considered deliverable and therefore legitimately part of the five-year supply.
In its arguments, Gladman drew attention to local plan sites - described as "Jurassic" sites - where there is no planning application activity and no identified commitment from the landowner or a developer to bring the site forward within five years.
Gladden also contended that there were sites included in the housing land supply which had been allocated in previous local plan iterations, but which had not been developed.
However, the inspector’s decision letter said that many of these sites were recently assessed as part of the authority’s local plan examination in 2015/16. "Then the examining inspector concluded that a five-year supply existed," the decision letter said.
It added: "Neither the absence of: delivery in the past, planning activity and developer/landowner commitment indicates that the disputed sites are undeliverable and should not be included within the five-year supply."
In the decision letter, the inspector considered a recent Court of Appeal ruling, which confirmed that a "realistic prospect" of a site coming forward within the required timeframe will be sufficient to meet the housing deliverability test set by national planning policy.
Paragraph 47(2) of the National Planning Policy Framework requires planning authorities to show a supply of "specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years’ worth of housing against their housing requirements".
In the case, which also involved East Riding of Yorkshire Council, St Modwen unsuccessfully argued at the Court of Appeal that this formula sets the bar too low and that delivery of identified sites should be "probable" within five years.
Citing the Court of Appeal’s judgment, inspector Baird said that there was a five-year supply, despite actual delivery appearing to fall short of the expected housing delivery trajectory.
"In light of the St Modwen developments judgement, the trajectory identifies what is likely to happen and the deliverable supply is an expression of what is capable of happening," the decision letter said. "Trajectory does not, in my view, go to the process required to determine whether a site is deliverable under the terms of framework policy."