Invalid unilateral undertaking tips balance towards refusal despite housing shortfall

An inspector has dismissed a proposal for 14 dwellings on the edge of a village in Warwickshire in the tilted balance of paragraph 11 of the NPPF, as the harm to the appearance and character of the area just outweighed the benefits of the housing. The latter had been diminished by an invalid unilateral undertaking regarding contributions to affordable housing and healthcare.

The council could not show a five-year supply of housing land and so the inspector considered the housing policies of the adopted local plan, which indicated the housing target in the area had been met, was out of date and therefore of reduced weight. In his subsequent considerations of the tilted balance, the inspector intimated that this situation may have tipped the overall balance in favour of the new homes as he had assessed their harm to the character and appearance of the area to "not be considerable", especially as an adjacent, similar site had been granted 14 dwellings on appeal. However, the weight the inspector afforded to the cumulative benefit of the new homes was reduced by the fact that he held the unilateral undertaking associated with the proposal was flawed and therefore contrary to the adopted local plan policies seeking contributions to infrastructure. This was because one of the owners of the application site had not been formally notified of the application or the appeal and, although this situation had been remedied, they were not a signaturee on the unilateral undertaking associated with providing financial contributions towards affordable housing and healthcare.  This resulted in concerns about the validity and enforceability of the undertaking and therefore a reduction in the possible benefits of the new homes. The inspector concluded the balance therefore tipped back towards refusing the proposal.  

Inspector: Andrew Owen; Written representations


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