Housing-only scheme approved at intended neighbourhood centre

A housing-only scheme at an allocated site that was originally intended to accommodate a mixed-use neighbourhood centre has been approved in a Leicestershire settlement, with no policy conflict found, despite the lack of retail units and distinctive design that was originally envisaged in the outline permission for the site.

The council had refused the 40 strong housing-only proposal because they felt it conflicted with an approved outline scheme for the site and subsequent adopted local plan allocations policy which proposed housing and a neighbourhood centre, including retail units, as part of a wider allocation. The inspector acknowledged that it was clear that the policy stemmed from the desire to provide local facilities of an appropriate size and nature to cater for the housing and employment uses approved as part of the outline permission for a much wider allocation. But she held that because the allocations policy was not prescriptive with regard to the size or location of the retail units required as part of the neighbourhood centre and the original permission had lapsed, a pub and restaurant and other commercial units which had already been permitted and were being constructed close by would fulfil the neighbourhood centre requirement and therefore the appeal site did not need to. 

The inspector also considered that as the design aspirations in the masterplan accompanying the outline permission had not been carried forward into any development plan policy or supporting guidance, the weight that could be afforded to those aspirations and criteria as a material consideration was very limited.  She acknowledged the proposed houses would not necessarily appear distinctive compared with other surrounding housing, as was originally envisaged but she held the development would bring a vacant site into use with a development of new housing which would be sympathetic in character and appearance to existing surrounding housing, and would accord with the requirements of relevant development plan policy.

Inspector: Jillian Rann; Hearing


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