York's housing land supply deficit helps developer win appeal over 266 green belt homes

A planning inspector has allowed an appeal for 266 homes in York's green belt after finding the "very special circumstances" necessary to justify approval, including the city council's lack of a five-year housing land supply.

A masterplan image of the scheme (pic credit: Miller Homes)
A masterplan image of the scheme (pic credit: Miller Homes)

Developer Boroughbridge Road Miller Homes appealed after City of York Council failed to determine the application, proposed for the north-western edge of the city, within the statutory time limits.

Inspector Yvonne Wright last week allowed the firm's appeal.

She found that the proposal would be inappropriate development in the green belt under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and would harm the openness of the site, which is currently used for growing crops. These factors were given significant weight against the proposal.

However, Wright concluded that "the substantial harm by reason of inappropriateness and the effect on openness would be clearly outweighed" by other considerations and that "very special circumstances exist" to allow the application.

In her decision letter, Wright said that the council can only demonstrate a housing land supply (HLS) of 3.28 years or 3.82 years, depending on whether emerging local plan allocations are counted or not.

Wright said: "In these circumstances, as the council does not have a five year HLS and in light of the imperative in the framework to boost significantly the supply of housing, this provision is a significant consideration that weighs in favour of the proposal."

The inclusion of 30 per cent affordable housing is in line with the council’s current practice, Wright said, and she gave this obligation significant weight.

Wright went on to say that the scheme would not result in harm to the five purposes of including land within the green belt outlined in the NPPF.

Both parties to the appeal agreed that the land is currently in the green belt, even though the council does not currently have an adopted local plan.

York City Council’s emerging local plan, currently at examination, does not include the site within the green belt, which Wright said weighed moderately in support of the proposal.

Economic benefits, such as construction jobs and support for local businesses from new residents, along with biodiversity features, carried "some weight" in the decision, Wright said.

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