Pickles allows appeals for 1,100 Worcestershire homes due to lack of five year supply

Out-Law News | 14 Jul 2014 | 5:15 pm | 1 min. read

Secretary of state for communities and local government (SoS) Eric Pickles has allowed three appeals that propose to add 1,100 new homes to the same Worcestershire district, citing a local authority's inability to demonstrate a five year supply of housing. 

Wychavon District Council refused planning permission for three developments in 2013. The developments were deemed contrary to retained policies from the 2006 district plan, which covered development until 2011, and proposed policies in the emerging South Worcestershire development plan (SWDP), submitted for examination in May 2013.

Developer Codex Land Promotions had applied to the Council for planning permission for a mixed-use development of up to 380 homes, 5,000 square metres of employment floor space and 400 sq m of community buildings at a 23 hectare site in Long Marston.

Developers Barberry Droitwich had submitted plans for a 500 home development in Droitwich Spa, including a 200 unit care facility, shops, offices, restaurants and a bowling alley, and Persimmon Homes had made an application to build 265 homes in Newland.

All three developers appealed against the Council's refusal of their respective schemes and all three appeals were recovered for determination by the SoS, being large developments with the potential to impact the government's objectives for the supply of housing.

In his decision letter (132-page / 834 KB PDF) allowing the appeal in relation to the Codex development, Pickles agreed with the opinion of planning inspector Jane Stiles, that "very little weight" could be accorded to housing policy in the emerging SWDP, due to the examining inspector's concerns that it significantly underestimated local need. The SoS also agreed with the inspector that the Council was unable to demonstrate a five year supply of housing land.

"Although the proposed development conflicts with the relevant development plan policies, these are out of date," wrote Pickles, noting that "in the absence of a five year housing land supply in an up-to-date, adopted development plan, planning permission should be granted".

Also in favour of the proposals were the facts that the site was immediately available and could help provide "a significant proportion of much-needed affordable housing", Pickles said.

Similar issues were considered by Pickles in his decision letter (162-page / 1.3 MB PDF) allowing the appeals in relation to the Barberry and Persimmon developments. In both cases the SoS concluded that the Council's planning policy was out-of-date, that the presumption in favour of sustainable development applied and the benefits of the schemes were not "significantly and demonstrably outweighed" by their disadvantages.

Pickles dismissed the Council's argument that allowing the appeals would prejudice the emerging SWDP, stating in relation to the Barberry scheme that "in particular, the SoS has taken into account the fact that the Council are proposing at least an extra 3,000 homes and have not yet decided where they should be located".

The Council has the right to challenge each decision within six weeks of the date of the relevant decision letter.