The appeal case rested on the issue of adequacy of contributions towards affordable housing and healthcare infrastructure provision. Adopted local plan policy required a provision of 30 per cent or equivalent commuted sum, subject to viability. The council and appellant had, however, disputed the level of planning contributions on viability grounds, the areas of dispute being around the level of developer profit, empty property costs and disposal rates. In terms of the latter, the council felt the appellant’s disposal rates were too low and the empty property costs too high, but the inspector favoured the appellant’s figures on the issue, mainly because there was insufficient robust regional data to determine otherwise.
With respect to developer profit, the appellant was seeking a higher level at 20 per cent of gross development value whereas the council argued a figure nearer to 15 per cent was more appropriate. Again, the inspector favoured the appellant’s arguments on this issue, opining that the level of risk with retirement apartments was greater than for general market housing because there was no assistance from Help to Buy schemes, more limited markets, a need to complete building works before sales and slow occupation rates. The inspector concluded that although not meeting local plan policy targets, the proposal would meet the NPPF objective of creating mixed and balanced communities as there was a clear need for elderly persons’ accommodation in the area and it would meet policy requirements overall having regard to viability.
Inspector: Andrew McGlone; Hearing