Care scheme dwellings should provide for affordable component

A housing development with care at an allocated site in an Oxfordshire settlement was refused for materially exceeding the number of dwellings set out in a made neighbourhood plan allocations policy and for failure to provide on-site affordable housing.

The inspector first assessed the nature of the proposal in terms of the Use Classes Order, namely whether it comprised the provision of dwellings as part of a wider residential care use or whether it comprised individual care units only. The inspector held that the nature of the layout of the units, which could all provide day-to-day facilities necessary for private domestic existence, and the fact that the communal facilities were to be provided in a separate building meant that the scheme should be considered as providing separate dwellings. Following from this determination, he opined, by providing for 78 dwellings the proposal was inherently contrary to the terms of the adopted neighbourhood plan policy for the site in that it exceeded the number of dwellings permitted, no more than 45, to a significantly material extent. 

Additionally, the proposal did not include provision for affordable housing and the inspector held this was contrary to adopted local plan policy which required 40 per cent provision on-site where dwellings would be delivered. As he had determined that dwellings were to be provided then he concluded this policy should be applied. He did not consider paragraph 64 of the NPPF provided a get-out clause in this respect as the appellant argued as none of the internal design features of the housing were so specialist as to mean that they met the specific needs of the older person population rather than that of the wider population. Overall on this issue, the inspector concluded the failure to provide the proper contribution to affordable housing and not robustly justify a financial contribution instead of on-site provision meant that the proposal would be contrary to policy and this harm should be given very substantial weight. 

In conclusion, the inspector found the increase in dwellings to be provided and the heritage benefits of the scheme would not outweigh the harms regarding NDP policy conflict and lack of affordable housing provision.

Inspector: R J Jackson; Inquiry

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