SOS overturns previous approval for 200 Buckinghamshire homes

The secretary of state has reversed his inspector's recommendation to approve a Buckinghamshire residential development of 203 new homes, a doctors' surgery, open space and associated infrastructure, assessing the balance of weight to be against the proposal after finding a positive housing position instead of a shortfall and sufficient conflict with the adopted policies to outweigh an otherwise sustainable development.

The overturned decision fell on the weight to be afforded the conflict with the policies in the adopted plan and the five-year housing land supply position. In his decision, the secretary of state referred to updated national policy and guidance since the appeal was first heard, namely the new NPPF and PPG regarding assessment of housing needs. Using the new standard method and the change to the definition of "deliverable" sites but agreeing with his inspector’s analysis in all other respects, the secretary of state found in favour of a five-year housing supply for the authority in contrast to his inspector’s conclusions. 

The main area of disagreement, however, was the weight afforded to the conflict with the adopted plan’s density policy. The proposal would involve development at half the density of that required in the adopted plan, of 35 dwellings per hectare. The secretary of state gave this conflict significant weight in contrast to his inspector who held that although the density of the scheme was low, it would still reflect the character of its surroundings. The secretary of state did not feel that the emerging plan’s lack of a minimum density policy affected this conclusion, despite giving the plan moderate weight. The conflicts relating to location of the development outside the settlement boundary and density were sufficient in the secretary of state's reviewed balance to refuse the scheme.

Inspector: David Cullingford; Inquiry

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