Loss of unused private allotments sufficient to deny needed new homes

46 new homes were refused in an urban area of west Yorkshire for harmful effects on the provision of allotments and greenspace in the area, contrary to the adopted development plan and the NPPF, despite a need for further housing in the area.

The former private allotments had been unused for some time but were allocated as greenspace in the council’s local plan with protection from changes of use unless a proven surplus of such facilities could be evidenced. The site had been allocated for half housing, half allotments by the council in an emerging site allocations plan, but the inspector afforded this limited weight as outstanding objections had not been resolved.

In assessing the scheme against the council’s adopted policies, the inspector held its evidence regarding a three-hectare shortfall of such greenspace in the local area was robust. This was despite the appellant arguing that the council should not have included the whole population in its assessment of need as children would not use such a facility. The inspector disagreed, holding that allotments were a community resource. In addition, no alternative allotment site was proposed by the appellant to justify the loss, again conflicting with policy.

A planning obligation to provide for off-site improvements to other parks in the area had been offered and agreed, but the inspector felt this, along with the use of the entire appeal site for housing, had been insufficiently evidenced to establish whether they would deliver the wider planning benefits and improvements of the existing greenspace quality in the same locality. He opined the off-site contribution would not comply with paragraph 97 of the NPPF either. The loss of the allotments was sufficient for the inspector to conclude the harms of the proposal outweighed the housing benefits despite a housing shortfall in the area.

Inspector: Mike Worden; Written representations

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