Highways concerns block homes in shortfall area

Significant highway impacts are substantial enough to outweigh the considerable benefits of a mixed-use scheme in West Yorkshire in an area with a housing land supply shortfall, an inspector has ruled.

The proposal included 300 dwellings, a doctors’ surgery practice, a shop and public open space on safeguarded land on the edge of a village. The council refused the outline proposal over loss of safeguarded land, prematurity in relation to an emerging allocations plan, lack of accessibility to services and highway concerns. The inspector acknowledged that the principle of safeguarding land outside green belt to meet longer-term development needs is consistent with paragraph 139 of the NPPF.

However, he found that the plan period for the original safeguarding policy had ended and no adopted plan was in place to meet identified needs. On this basis, and given only 4.3 years' supply of housing land in the area, he concluded that the original safeguarding policy was out of date. In that context, he held, restricting the supply of much-needed development land would have no logical purpose.

On the prematurity issue, the inspector held that the council’s emerging plan could only be given limited weight because it faced significant unresolved objections and was yet to be found sound. In addition, he considered that releasing the site would have no material impact on the council’s plan-making process due to its relatively small scale and the level of need in that particular housing market area.

However, he was concerned that the proposal would increase traffic turning at a nearby junction by up to 48 per cent. He found that a nearby railway bridge, over which the appellants had no control, affected visibility splays at the junction. The appellants sought to apply a lower standard than set out in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, involving a 13-metre reduction in splays and narrowing the road further. The inspector held that this could lead to increased conflict between vehicles and/or pedestrians, contrary to local and national policy advice.  This substantial harm outweighed all the benefits in the scheme’s favour, he ruled.

Inspector: Michael Boniface; Inquiry


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