Infrastructure contributions scaled back

A reporter was minded to permit in principle one hundred and ninety new homes on green field land in the countryside outside the boundary of a town in West Lothian subject to completion of an obligation providing for infrastructure.

After examining the housing supply position, the inspector found a significant housing land shortfall despite a recently adopted local plan and was satisfied that the development could be delivered within the next five years. The inspector noted that the regional plan and local plan provided support for additional housing in such circumstances, and a national presumption in favour of sustainable development applied.

On other main issues the reporter found acceptable impacts on the character of the settlement and local area and the environment, provided the final scheme followed the submitted masterplan, which could be secured by condition. Although the site layout included seven hectares of open space for both active and informal use, the council still sought maximum financial contributions to upgrading off-site open spaces. The reporter agreed with the appellant that only a financial contribution towards a sports pitch was appropriate as this would not be provided for within the scheme, and expressed concern regarding fixed rate financial contributions being used to address deficiencies elsewhere and not meeting the policy tests set out in circular 3/2012 on planning obligations. On this basis the reporter also rejected contributions to upgrading a dual carriageway but supported a requirement for additional school and cemetery capacity, affordable housing and public art.

Reporter: Elspeth Cook; Written representations

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