Out-Law News 1 min. read

Pickles refuses appeal for 100 homes on site not allocated for development in emerging neighbourhood plan

Secretary of state for communities and local government (SoS) Eric Pickles has refused an appeal for the construction of 100 homes at a location not allocated for development in an emerging Staffordshire neighbourhood plan.

East Staffordshire Borough Council refused an application from Burton and South Derbyshire College for permission to build up to 100 homes on open land on the edge of the village of Rolleston on Dove. The applicant's subsequent appeal was recovered for determination by the SoS, and planning inspector Terry Phillimore recommended that the appeal be allowed and permission granted.

In a letter dated 15 December (52-page / 861 KB PDF), Pickles agreed with the inspector that policies in the local plan placing the development site outside the development boundary should be considered out-of-date, in light of the Council's inability to demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing land. The SoS also agreed that the proposals represented sustainable development and that substantial weight should be given to the potential housing gain, the support to local services and the contribution to economic growth offered by the scheme.

However, unlike the inspector, Pickles placed "very substantial negative weight" on the potential prejudicial effect that allowing the development might have on the emerging Rolleston on Dove neighbourhood plan (NP), which had reached an advanced stage.

The NP had been submitted for examination in July 2013, including policies providing for 85 new homes in the parish by 2031 and precluding development on the application site, which was allocated as an open space of community value (OSCV). An independent examiner had recommended in his report in October 2013 that the application site be removed from the list of OSCVs and that the figure of 85 homes should not represent a ceiling on development.

Pickles acknowledged that the proposed development "would not be in direct conflict with policies in the NP", as modified by the examiner. However, he concluded that "to allow this appeal in advance of the NP progressing to referendum would represent a large scale development that is not in a location that is explicitly provided for by the NP or required to be incorporated as a strategic requirement".

"The appeal proposal undermines the neighbourhood plan-making process by predetermining decisions about the scale and location of new development central to the emerging NP," said Pickles. Dismissing the appeal and refusing consent, the SoS noted that granting permission would have both prejudiced emerging local planning policies and had "wider implications for neighbourhood planning nationally".

The Council, or any other interested party, has six weeks to challenge Pickles' decision in the High Court.

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