Site size counts in affordable homes claim

In dismissing an appeal for nine homes on a site in Oxfordshire, an inspector has agreed with the local planning authority that the scheme generated a need for affordable housing.

The council's local plan stated that affordable housing would be required on sites of 0.25ha or above and a supplementary planning document (SPD) said this threshold related to gross site area. The appeal site extended to 0.31ha but the appellants argued that a significant area of woodland on steeply sloping ground could not be built on, reducing the effective developable area to 0.21ha.

The inspector held that the SPD was a material consideration and made clear that gross site area should be used in calculating the need for affordable housing. The trees were not protected by a preservation order and could in theory be removed to make more land available for development, he opined. The steep slope would not necessarily preclude the building of homes, he added. On that basis, he ruled that the scheme should make some contribution towards affordable housing needs.

The appellants argued that this would make the development unviable, estimating that the houses would sell for approximately £400,000 rather than the £450,000 claimed by the council. Despite these differing assessments of viability, the inspector concluded that the scheme would be able to support some affordable housing. Since the appellants were unwilling to accede to this request the appeal had to fail, he ruled.

DCS Number 100-050-620

Inspector Robert Yuille; Hearing.

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