The inspector noted the agreed housing land supply position at 3.43 years and consequently held the local plan policies with respect to housing supply must be considered out of date. He held the same view regarding the neighbourhood plan since that plan did not allocate any sites for development and therefore the ministerial statement of 2016 was not relevant. Whether the site was a suitable location for development or not was one of the main issues.
The village was a key settlement in the local plan which was expected to accommodate a minimum of 400 homes in or adjoining it. The inspector held that as this policy referred to a minimum number and there was nothing in the policy prohibiting a larger number being delivered, it did not matter that the number of homes already granted permission in the area had exceeded the 400 figure and dismissed arguments about the capacity of the village services, especially primary schools, to sustain more development. He also discounted the numerous efforts made by the council to bring sustainable urban extensions forward in the main urban area, in contrast to another recent appeal in the district where the conflict with the local plan housing strategy regarding housing numbers was afforded greater weight.
In the planning balance, the inspector granted significant weight to the new homes, including 20 per cent affordable, in an area of substantial need. He accepted the conflicts with the local plan and neighbourhood plan but held that as the location was adjoining a key settlement and was not affected by green belt, the site could make an important contribution. He concluded the harms to appearance and character and conflict with policies did not outweigh the benefits, indicating a decision other than in accordance with the plan.
Inspector: Michael Boniface; Hearing