Inspector allows 61-home scheme outside development limits in Leicestershire

Out-Law News | 14 Aug 2014 | 2:57 pm | 1 min. read

A planning inspector has allowed an appeal against a Leicestershire council’s refusal of planning permission for a 61-home residential scheme outside the development limits in its local plan, after concluding that the council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land.

Ullesthorpe Court Hotel and Golf Club (UGH) applied to Harborough District Council for outline permission for the development in November 2013. The proposed scheme was outside the 'limits to development' for the village of Ullesthorpe, as outlined in the local plan for the area, and a policy in the local plan said that housing “will not be permitted outside limits to development ... unless at any point there is less than a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites and the proposal is in keeping with the scale and character of the area”.

Considering that it was able to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing, the Council refused permission. UGH appealed to the planning inspectorate and a site visit and hearing were conducted by planning inspector Jane Miles on 2 July.

The inspector noted in her decision letter (12-page / 130 KB PDF) that a recent decision by the secretary of state for communities and local government had concluded that the Council was in fact not able to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing land. Moving on to consider whether the adverse impacts of allowing development would "significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits", the inspector attached significant weight to the contribution the development could make to addressing the district's shortfall in housing supply, including affordable housing. 

The inspector disagreed with the Council's concerns that the proposal would detract from the character and appearance of the area. Despite being located within the Upper Soar Landscape Character Area, Miles said that "few of this character area's key characteristics are evident on the site or in its immediate surroundings". The inspector concluded that "there would be negligible impact to the area's rural character and landscape" and that "careful attention to landscaping and layout at the reserved matters stage could mitigate any impacts" at the site itself.

Allowing the appeal, the inspector said: "Ullesthorpe is a village identified in [the local plan core strategy for the district] for some housing growth. Policy CS2 allows for such growth outside the existing 'limits to development' when, as now, a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites cannot be demonstrated, subject to the proposal being in keeping with the village's scale and character. I have found that the latter criterion would be satisfied".

The inspector said that she "found nothing sufficient to alter my conclusion that the proposal would not result in any adverse effects of such weight as to outweigh its benefits", and granted planning permission for the scheme, subject to conditions.