The outline proposal comprised 65 apartments and cottages and associated communal facilities on land adjoining a small village identified in the adopted local plan as only capable of accommodating infill and rural exception sites. The inspector found that the care village would directly conflict with this locational policy and with another directing specialist accommodation for older people towards towns and larger villages.
In terms of site-specific impacts, he decided that the site’s level of containment and urban influences close by meant the proposal would not significantly detract from the wider character of the landscape and its negative effects would be localised and limited. He afforded only moderate weight to the policy conflicts after accepting that the appellants’ contention that the policies were out of date. He found that the housing requirement in the adopted plan was based on a revoked regional strategy and therefore constrained development, while the landscape character policies’ protectionist stance were inconsistent with the NPPF.
Engaging the tilted balance in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 11(d) of the NPPF, the inspector found in favour of the scheme. Indeed, even if the tilted balance were not engaged, he was satisfied that the benefits associated with the demonstrably needed form of development would outweigh any harm and would still provide for the material considerations required to grant permission for schemes not in accordance with the development plan.
He went on to reject the council’s argument, again based on the adopted local plan policy, that the site should provide 40 per cent affordable housing, finding that its wording was not clear or unambiguous. He also noted that the council had only recently begun to apply this policy to accommodation for the elderly. In his view, it did not apply to the appeal proposal because it referred to "dwellings". He considered that the proposal, rather than involving provision of individual dwellings, comprised a number of units in which occupation was restricted, occupants had access to communal facilities and a level of care was needed.
Inspector: Kenneth Stone; Inquiry