Out-Law News 2 min. read

Pickles allows 135 homes within Leicestershire neighbourhood plan area

Secretary of state for communities and local government (SoS) Eric Pickles has allowed an appeal that will permit the construction of 135 homes in a Leicestershire neighbourhood plan area in which no progress had been made towards a neighbourhood plan since early 2014.

Developer Rainier Properties applied to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council in June 2013 for outline permission to construct up to 135 homes on seven hectares of degraded parkland surrounding an Edwardian villa in the village of Burbage. The Council refused the application in October 2013, citing concerns about the impact the proposed development would have on local traffic, neighbouring properties and the character and beauty of the countryside.

The developer’s subsequent appeal was recovered for determination by the SoS. Planning inspector D R Cullingford recommended to the SoS that the appeal be dismissed and permission granted for the scheme. A decision letter (112-page / 1.5 MB PDF) issued this week said the SoS agreed with Cullingford’s assessment.

The SoS agreed with the inspector that housing policies in the adopted Hinckley and Bosworth core strategy (HBCS) must be considered out of date given the Council's inability to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing land.

The letter noted that "the need for affordable housing [in the area] is acute" and that the proposed delivery of 40% affordable housing within the development against a Council target of 20% weighed in favour of granting permission. The SoS agreed with the inspector that the indicative scheme was well-designed and would provide a wide range of housing types and sizes at a low density in a location that was close to the employment opportunities and facilities of the adjacent 'sub regional centre' of Hinckley. Also weighing in favour of development was the proposed use of around a third of the site as public open space, the letter said.

The SoS decided that the harm caused by the development of a greenfield site outside the existing development boundary would be "limited" and that any impact would be reduced by the proposed landscaping and the low density of the scheme. While additional traffic would result from the development, the increase in flow would be "modest" and "would not significantly alter the quiet and safe character of the streets", the letter said.

The letter noted that the Burbage neighbourhood area had been designated as a neighbourhood plan area in early 2014. While the SoS has previously given weight to whether proposed developments have been designated in relevant emerging neighbourhood plans, the letter noted that there had been "no evidence of progression beyond designation of the area in early 2014". The SoS had therefore not given any weight to the designation in coming to his decision.

"The limited environmental and residential amenity harm identified would not be sufficient to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the provision of up to 135 dwellings, 40% of which would be affordable, to be delivered in a sustainable location close to the sub-regional centre," concluded the SoS. "The SoS finds that the open space provision and diversity of housing type would add further weight in favour of the proposal."

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