Ten 2020 appeal decisions that you need to know about

The most downloaded cases from COMPASS Online decided between January and May 2020.

The Planning Inspectorate's headquarters in Bristol
The Planning Inspectorate's headquarters in Bristol

1. A log cabin in a Kent garden comprised a building and needed permission, an inspector decided.

This decision attracted wide attention after the DCP blog hailed it as a “textbook example” of how to approach a particular situation, in this instance revolving around the appellant’s claim that the cabin was a caravan and therefore ancillary to the residential use. Inspector: Nancy Thomas

2. A local housing need was judged to support plans for up to 150 homes outside a Suffolk village.

Following R (East Bergholt Parish Council) v Babergh District Council [2015], the secretary of state agreed with his inspector that development can take place outside defined village limits to meet a proven local housing need. Inspector: Kenneth Stone

3. Improved green belt openness was key to approval of 500 homes at a former campus outside Oxford.

The secretary of state agreed that most of the site was previously developed and that, even on the undeveloped part of the site, conflict with green belt policy was outweighed by improved openness resulting from the removal of existing structures, including a 12-storey tower. Inspector: Dominic Young

4. The benefits of a care village in Hertfordshire were outweighed by green belt and heritage harm.

Despite a significant local need for retirement accommodation and the lack of alternative sites, the inspector concluded that the scheme’s substantial benefits did not outweigh harm to the green belt, heritage assets and local appearance. Inspector: Claire Searson

5. Educational needs and housing benefits justified consent for 325 homes in the Manchester green belt.

In the context of less than three years’ land supply, the secretary of state accepted that the scale of development was the minimum needed to cross-subsidise a charitable trust’s plans to provide new facilities at a special school. Inspector: Michael Boniface

6. Costs were awarded against a north London council over its refusal of a housing-led mixed-use scheme.

The secretary of state held that the council had raised vague and generalised objections to the high-rise scheme, which in his view respected the area’s existing character while maximising the site’s potential. Inspector: John Braithwaite

7. A 117-home scheme in Berkshire was not justified by Covid-19’s land supply impact, an inspector held.

While recognising that the pandemic will slow housing delivery rates and adjusting the council’s assumptions on completions to take that into account, the inspector concluded that this did not justify building on an unsuitably located site in an area with a land supply of just over five years. Inspector: Christina Downes

8. An outstanding internal design helped to secure consent for an isolated new home in the Cotswolds.

As well as finding the exterior design of the low-level house truly outstanding, the inspector particularly commended the way the internal spaces had been designed to relate to the areas immediately outside the various rooms. Inspector: Stephen Papworth

9. Costs were awarded against a Derbyshire council after its pre-application advice was ruled flawed.

In another case highlighted in the DCP blog, the costs award followed a successful appeal against refusal of permission for a house in a suburban garden after the appellants amended their original proposal in line with council advice. Inspector: Rebecca Norman

10. An attractive overall design was declared sufficient to justify consent for a mixed scheme in east London.

Fundamental in the secretary of state’s controversial decision to grant permission, against an inspector’s advice, was the reduced weight he gave to harm from tall buildings and the increased weight he gave to the benefits of affordable housing provision. Inspector: David Prentis

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