In addressing potential conflict with the recently adopted local plan, the inspector noted the proposed housing was outside the rural centre’s development boundary and he therefore immediately held the proposal was in conflict with the locational policy intentions of that plan, even accepting there was some ambiguity over the specific wording of the policy. He also held the proposal was in conflict with an associated policy limiting the scale of developments within minor rural centres to a maximum of 30, notwithstanding the proposal’s location outside the boundary.
The appellant had argued the council could not show a five-year supply of housing land due to over-optimistic site delivery rates. The inspector went on to consider this aspect carefully. Firstly, he referred to the council’s assessment of a higher than national average general delivery rate of between 150 and 250 dwellings per annum which he considered was justified based on the fact that the rates had very recently been examined and found sound by a local plan inspector. The appellant had queried six sites with regards over-optimistic delivery, but the inspector accepted the council’s estimated delivery rates, based on developer questionnaires and clear evidence of specific circumstances, in all but one of the sites. The site disregarded related to an allocated site with no extant permission and uncertainty regarding environmental impact assessment. However, the discounted supply, of some 140 dwellings, was not sufficient to reduce the overall supply figure to below five years. The inspector concluded overall that the benefits of the 160 homes were insufficient to outweigh the local plan policy conflict.
Inspector: Tim Wood; Hearing