The proposal comprised a range of commercial, industrial and storage uses, up to 1,100 homes, a care home, health centre, creche, primary school and highway and transport works. The secretary of state agreed with the inspector that redevelopment of the site, irrespective of whether it was for employment, housing or other purposes, would contribute to targets in the structure plan and the emerging regional spatial strategy (RSS) for securing development on brownfield land in a sequentially preferable location.
She accepted that development of the site purely for employment would be unlikely to fulfil the sustainability objectives underlying emerging RSS policies. However, she recognised that the mixed-use proposal did not conform with the site's allocation for employment uses in the recently adopted local plan and agreed with the inspector that its employment status should not be relinquished lightly.
The secretary of state considered that no decision to develop the site other than in accordance with the local plan should be taken prior to serious attempts to comply with the policy. Its future should be based on a comprehensive assessment of the region's employment land needs, she held. Pointing to shortcomings in both parties' evidence on the site's viability, she judged that it had not yet been shown conclusively that the employment allocation was no longer appropriate.
She decided that prospects for development of the site should be explored over a reasonable time period to allow for its effective marketing in accordance with the local plan provisions. If its future remained uncertain it would then be appropriate to review the local plan allocation as part of a fully informed exercise, she added.
DCS Number 100-050-848
Inspector Richard Ogier; Inquiry.