Inspector rejects 91-home green wedge development in Leicestershire

Out-Law News | 06 Feb 2013 | 4:01 pm | 1 min. read

A planning inspector has upheld the decision by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council to refuse plans for a residential development on green wedge land, saying the proposal was premature.

The inspector said in his report (7-page / 127KB PDF) that the proposal by developer Bloor Homes was premature because the Council's emerging policy on site allocation and its Green Wedge Review were still in draft.

The inspector said that, although the Council had identified the development site as a preferred option for housing development in its emerging site allocations policy, the weight attached to it was limited by the fact that the emerging policy was still in consultation draft.

He said that granting planning permission to Bloor before the policy was adopted would "pre-empt a decision that should properly be made through the development plan process". He also said it would be contrary to principles in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that planning decisions should be "genuinely plan led".

"It would render futile the work done by the Council and the contributions made by the local community, thereby reducing public confidence in the planning process and would be contrary to the spirit of paragraphs 12 and 17 of the 2012 NPPF," the inspector said.

He noted that the Council was able to show a five year housing supply in accordance with the NPPF using the "Liverpool" method which spreads any shortfall in a given year over the remainder of the Plan period. Bloor argued that the appropriate method should be the "Sedgefield" model, which seeks to meet any shortfall earlier in the Plan period.

The inspector said that since the Council had an up to date development plan in the form of its Core Strategy and since it could demonstrate a five year housing supply, the development plan should be the starting point for decision making under the NPPF.

The inspector further said that the proposal conflicted with the Core Strategy's policy on protection of green wedges, which did not list housing as one of the uses that would be acceptable within such land.

He said that, although the Council was currently progressing a Green Wedge Review to establish what green wedge land would be released for development, it was "far from being a foregone conclusion" that the site would be allocated for housing.