Inspector found under-supply of housing land concerning

An interesting read, particularly following Andrew Kolker’s remarks at this months Parish Council regarding Cheshire East’s request to Planning Minister Nick Boles to accept that they can demonstrate a sufficient supply of housing land with a 5% buffer, using the ‘Liverpool’ method:

The construction of 148 dwellings in Cheshire was approved due in part to the consistent under-delivery of housing in the district. In so concluding an inspector also held that the council had acted unreasonably in refusing planning permission.

The council initially claimed that it could demonstrate a seven-year supply of housing land based on a draft local plan with a five per cent buffer and applying the ‘Liverpool’ method for meeting future needs. The latter spread the previous under-supply across the whole of the plan period. The appellant disputed this calculation, asserting that there was less than three years’ supply and a 20 per cent buffer should be included with the backlog met over the next five-year period. By the end of the inquiry the council conceded that it had approximately two and a half years’ supply.

An inspector agreed that the backlog in housing supply should be addressed as soon as possible given the government’s clear desire to increase building rates and there was almost universal acceptance of this approach by other inspectors and the secretary of state. The scheme would involve the loss of a greenfield site but the scale of development would be consistent with the pattern of past growth and while it would reduce the gap between two settlements this would not lead to coalescence.

In allowing the appeal the inspector noted that permission had been refused contrary to the advice of its planning officer and the elected member who gave evidence did not deal with the technical aspects of housing land supply. The officer who gave this evidence was bound by his professional code to accept that the council’s opposition on land supply grounds was untenable.

Nor did the council adequately explain the harm to the character of the area, and development plan policies were applied incorrectly. Nor did the evidence reflect the presumption in favour of housing development where there was a shortage of supply and on this basis the appeal should have been unnecessary.          Inspector Alan Boyland; Inquiry. Taken from Planning Resource

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