Jenrick overrules inspector to refuse 500 green belt homes

The housing secretary has refused permission for 500 homes on green belt land in West Yorkshire against an inspector's recommendation, despite the council's lack of a five-year housing land supply.

Bradford City Hall. Image by Tom Blackwell, Flickr
Bradford City Hall. Image by Tom Blackwell, Flickr

The application by developer CEG Land Promotions was called in by the secretary of state in July last year, two months after Bradford City Council’s regulatory and appeals committee voted to approve the application.

The application proposed up to 500 homes plus an education facility on 25.6 hectares of farmland to the west of the village of Burley-in-Wharfedale.

Following a planning inquiry, inspector David Wildsmith recommended approval, but Robert Jenrick has now decided to refuse the application.

Given the councill's housing land supply of just 2.06 years, Wildsmith gave "very substantial weight" to both the provision of 500 new homes and to the delivery of 30 per cent affordable housing.

He also gave "very significant weight" to the provision of a new primary school in the village and to the proposed incorporation of the archaeological remains of a Roman temporary camp - discovered during site investigation works - into the development.

Together, these factors contributed to the "very special circumstances" necessary to allow the development on green belt, the inspector concluded.

However, a decision letter sent on behalf of the minister said Jenrick had concluded that the benefits of the scheme "do not outweigh the harm to the green belt by reason of inappropriateness and the further harm arising from conflict with three of the five purposes of the green belt".

"He has concluded that the very special circumstances needed to justify this development do not exist."

Jenrick agreed with the inspector that the presumption in favour of sustainable development was triggered because the council cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land.

This meant that he gave very substantial weight to the proposal to provide 500 homes – 30 per cent of which were proposed as affordable.

He agreed that the proposal would have no adverse effect on ecology or nature conservation, and that it would demonstrate a net benefit for biodiversity.

The benefits resulting from the provision of housing outweighed the less than substantial harm to two nearby grade II listed buildings, the letter said.

But the letter said the proposal would conflict with the purposes of the green belt in the National Planning Policy Framework because it would merge the built edge of Burley-in-Wharfedale with another nearby development.

It also said the proposal would lead to encroachment into the countryside, and would result in the sprawl of the Burley-in-Wharfedale built up area, both of which would conflict with green belt purposes as set out in the framework. 

In his concluding remarks, Jenrick said green belt policies in the National Planning Policy Framework "provide a clear reason for refusing the development proposed".

He said no material considerations indicated that a decision should be taken other than in line with the development plan.

Also this week, Jenrick refused an appeal for a 700-home development in Hampshire after concluding that "protective" heritage policy in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) "disapplied" the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Yesterday, a developer claimed that Tory politicians "from top to bottom, have failed to endorse their own rhetoric" on housebuilding after its plans for 184 homes in Cheshire were blocked by the secretary of state against an inspector's advice for the second time.

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