The council did not object to the principle of the development but alleged that the appellants' failure to provide a commuted payment in line with supplementary planning guidance (SPG) would lead to loss of job-generating floor space without making alternative provision in the borough.
The inspector was not entirely convinced that the approach advocated in the SPG clearly conformed with development plan policies. In his view, it appeared to introduce policy for live-work units rather than filling out adopted policy. The council pointed to recent research indicating that many live-work units were used exclusively for residential purposes and argued that measures are needed to remedy this.
The appellants confirmed that the units were vacant and had been marketed for two years without attracting interest from business users. On that basis, they argued that the scheme should not trigger a requirement for a commuted payment because there would be no loss of employment floor space. The inspector agreed that the lack of demand was a factor in favour of the proposal.
Bearing in mind the overall scale and mix of development permitted on the site, he was not convinced that the scheme would prejudice the council's aim to retain employment land uses. He found that the proposal would help ease the borough's affordable housing shortfall and saw this as a further factor in its favour. He concluded that the planning obligation was unnecessary to make the scheme acceptable in planning terms.
DCS Number 100-050-383
Inspector Nigel Burrows; Written representations.