Minister blocks 75-home appeal over housebuilder's 'flawed' infrastructure pledge

The housing secretary has refused a planning appeal for up to 75 homes on an allocated site near Nuneaton in Warwickshire after agreeing with a planning inspector that a developer's unilateral undertaking intended to deliver infrastructure to support the development was "flawed".

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick (pic: Getty)
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick (pic: Getty)

The appeal was made by housebuilder Bellway Homes West Midlands against the decision of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council in May 2018 to refuse the application which would have seen the homes built on 2.7-hectares of former agricultural land at Greendale Road.

A planning inspector had recommended that the appeal be refused, and, following the recovery of the appeal by the secretary of state, the minister agreed with the inspector’s conclusion.

A decision letter issued this week, said the secretary of state, Robert Jenrick, noted that the appeal site is within the settlement boundary referred to in [local plan policies] and forms part of a strategic allocation.

The Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council Borough Plan was adopted in June 2019, the letter notes.

Although the 75 homes would be in addition to the number of homes proposed for the site during consultation into the local plan, the letter said that the minister agreed with the inspector that the extra 75 homes "would not result in development that would be out of scale with the overall allocation or be inconsistent with [local planning policy] and would not overheat the local housing market".

However, the minister also agreed with the inspector that the appellant's unilateral undertaking (UU) was "flawed".

The inspector’s report said the UU would offer "a substantial amount of money to provide infrastructure appropriate to the scale and context of the site in order to mitigate any impacts of the development, and address the needs associated with the development".

But the inspector said the UU did not properly identify the site, as required by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

"As it does not meet all the formal requirements of UUs, it does not have the status of a planning obligation and therefore I consider that no weight should be attached to it," the inspector said.

The secretary of state’s decision letter said the minister agreed "that the UU cannot be relied on and that the development would make inadequate provision for infrastructure".

The appeal was refused. 

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