Obligation for open space contributions discharged for being vague

The discharging of a planning obligation relating to the change of use of the floors above a shop to three residential flats was allowed in a Devon town as it was deemed to no longer serve a useful purpose.

The obligation, dated 2011, provided an open space contribution towards the council’s costs of maintaining open space provision in the area but it was made under the policies of the former local plan and had now been superseded by a new local plan, the NPPF and PPG, where obligations have to meet strict tests of necessity, direct relation and reasonableness.

The inspector felt the council had not demonstrated that the open space contribution would serve a useful purpose by defining what it was going to be spent on or identified which play areas, sports pitches or allotments would be harmed by the development. In conclusion, the inspector held that in the absence of any convincing evidence to justify the open space contribution it would be unsound to insist on it being paid. He said, "financial contributions should not be sought on the basis of vague or generalised assertions by local planning authorities". He found in the appellant’s favour. 

Inspector: Neil Pope; Written representations

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