The urban edge site encompassed 3.8 hectares of allocated employment land next to an existing industrial estate and a parcel of green belt outside the settlement boundary. As the latter part of the site was proposed for public open space in an illustrative housing layout, the inspector agreed that green belt policy objections did not arise.
The appellants submitted marketing and viability evidence, including exceptionally high ground costs, in support of their case that the site would not be developed for employment. The inspector was unconvinced that there was no reasonable prospect of its employment use over the emerging plan period to 2032. He also noted the council’s reliance on the site’s contribution to the area’s employment land supply. The local plan examination would be the best forum to examine employment need and site allocations in detail, he held.
In the absence of a five-year supply of housing land, he found local plan policies out of date and a strong case for the homes. However, he expressed concern over the appeal scheme’s deliverability within the five-year period, given its speculative nature and abnormal site costs. He decided that the effect of new homes on nearby established industry, loss of employment land, highway impacts, potential harm to the area’s character and conflict with development plan policies outweighed the scheme’s benefits.
Inspector: Martin Whitehead; Inquiry