Inspector rules neighbourhood plan neutral in 180 Derbyshire homes decision

A planning inspector has allowed an appeal against a Derbyshire council's refusal of a 180-home development after concluding that, given other factors, a neighbourhood plan's failure to allocate any land for housing rendered it neutral in the planning balance.

The application site (pic: RPS)
The application site (pic: RPS)

The appeal was made by housebuilder Ripon Homes against North East Derbyshire District Council's decision to refuse their plans for the homes on a seven-hectare site at Wingerworth.

In reaching his decision that the benefits of the proposal outweighed the limited harm to the appearance and character of the area, inspector Phillip Ware relied on three key points.

Firstly, he found that strategic housing and settlement boundary policies in a local plan dating from 2005 were out of date as they did not address up-to-date housing needs and were far more restrictive than countenanced by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

This triggered the tilted balance in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 11 of that document, he held.

Secondly, while acknowledging that the council was right to use the government's standard methodology in assessing housing requirements, thus showing a healthy five-year housing land supply positIon, the inspector concluded that this was not to be regarded as a ceiling.

Rather, he afforded significant weight to the benefits of boosting national supply from the general needs housing and 40 per cent affordable housing proposed by the developers.

Finally, the inspector discounted the fact that the made Wingerworth Neighbourhood Plan did not allocate the site for housing. Its failure to address housing needs in the area did not render it out of date, he found, but did render it neutral in the planning balance.

North East Derbyshire is one of 15 local authorities that former communities secretary Sajid Javid last year said last year had failed to make adequate progress on their local plans and faced the threat of central government intervention. 

The emerging North East Derbyshire Local Plan was subsequently submitted for examination this May. 

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