Javid reverses predecessor's decision to block 200 Gloucestershire homes

The communities secretary has approved plans for up to 200 homes on a site in Gloucestershire, two years after his predecessor refused the proposals.

In 2014, Forest of Dean District Council refused outline planning permission for the scheme which would deliver up to 200 homes, including up to 20 serviced self-build plots, and up to 37 retirement apartments and a community building.

Following an appeal and an inspector’s subsequent recommendation of approval, the application was recovered by former communities secretary Greg Clark because the appeal involved a potential conflict with a neighbourhood plan.

In late 2015 Clark refused the application, against an inspector’s recommendation.

A decision letter said that Clark considered that the council’s lack of a five-year housing land supply "and the contributions that the appeal proposal would make to increasing the supply of market and affordable housing weigh substantively in favour of the appeal".

However, it said that weighing against the appeal, was the conflict with the council’s emerging sites allocations document and the emerging Lydney Neighbourhood Development Plan. "to which he gives moderate weight; and the adverse impact on landscape and character to which he also gives moderate weight".

This decision was subsequently overturned at the High Court and the application has now been redetermined by Clark’s predecessor, Sajid Javid.

A decision letter issued this week said that Javid had agreed with an inspector’s recommendation and allowed the appeal.

The letter said that Javid agreed with the inspector that the council cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land "and that the uncontested position is of a supply of less than three years".

It said that this "renders the relevant policies for the supply of housing in both the [council’s core strategy] and the neighbourhood plan out of date".

The letter said the Javid considered that the harm to the character and appearance of the area carried "moderate weight", while harm to traffic conditions and harm to air quality carried "limited weight".

However, the decision letter said that that the "provision of the diverse mix of homes carries significant weight, and the provision of a new community building and employment during the construction stage carry moderate weight".

Recommending approval, the letter said that Javid "considers that the adverse impacts of the proposal do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits".

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