The inspector agreed that part of the site, which comprised active and dormant horticultural nurseries, could be considered previously developed but found that the majority was agricultural in nature. He noted that the local plan showed an indicative capacity in the village for 50 dwellings, which had already been exceeded. However, he also found that the plan did not set an upper ceiling on development and the scheme would have a limited impact on the area’s character and appearance.
Turning to housing land supply, the inspector examined whether there was a realistic prospect of disputed sites in the area delivering homes within five years. The NPPF, he observed, does not require absolute certainty to be shown as to the deliverability of sites. While the local plan set housing targets below objectively assessed housing need due to infrastructure constraints and an emerging local plan was likely to increase the housing requirement, he was satisfied that the council could show a five-year supply.
He acknowledged the scheme’s benefits in boosting supply of market and affordable housing and delivering employment and retail space. However, he was concerned that it would harm the local horticultural industry and be out of kilter with the spatial strategy’s aim to focus the majority of new development in higher-order settlements. The fact that the majority of the land was not previously developed also counted against granting permission, he concluded.
Inspector: John Felgate; Inquiry