Insufficient justification held for restricting the capacity of housing in sustainable village

An outline proposal for 50 new homes in open countryside on the edge of a village in Lancashire was approved on the grounds of housing need, despite concerns about location and significant objection based on stretched services.

The inspector held one of the main issues revolved around the appropriateness of the location for new homes. In terms of the appropriateness of the location, the inspector noted the site was within 800m of numerous facilities including shop, village hall, pubs, play areas, church and a school at around 1100m, although the inspector accepted that the latter could only be accessed by a narrow footway along a busy road which may put parents off allowing their children to walk to school. He quoted paragraph 55 of the NPPF in relation to housing in this village supporting other facilities nearby.

In terms of highway safety, whilst Highways England had expressed concern at the cumulative effects of increased housing in the area on a nearby A road junction noted for accidents, it had not expressly objected to the proposal and the inspector felt there was insufficient evidence to say that the result of the proposal would be so severe as to warrant its refusal. 

Ultimately, the weight the inspector afforded to adopted and emerging housing policies in an area of an acknowledged lack of five years supply of housing land was pivotal in the planning balance. The adopted 2005 plan for the area predated the NPPF and the emerging plan which categorised the village as a smaller settlement capable of taking limited growth of up to 50 dwellings over the plan period to 2032, was still subject to further examination. The local parish were not intending to do a neighbourhood plan as they felt the requirement for 50 dwellings had already been met in the village through recent permissions. He noted the council accepted that the village was a sustainable location for some development, but that they did not put forward a specific justification for limiting development in it to 50 dwellings and criticised their housing background paper scoring system for settlement facilities. He also felt that this proposal and others in the pipeline would not necessarily put an intolerable strain on existing services. The inspector concluded that the emerging policy could only be afforded little weight in the tilted balance which culminated in a favourable decision. 

Inspector: David Richards; Hearing

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