Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Pickles refuses permission for 100-home development in Buckinghamshire

Out-Law News | 04 Mar 2015 | 5:12 pm | 2 min. read

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has dismissed an appeal that would have permitted the construction of 100 homes on fields at the edge of a Buckinghamshire market town, after deciding that the proposal would not constitute sustainable development.

Housebuilder Gladman Developments submitted a planning application to Aylesbury Vale District Council in July 2013, seeking outline permission for a development with up to 100 homes, a village green and play space on five hectares of grazing land at the eastern edge of Winslow. The Council refused permission and Gladman's subsequent appeal was recovered for determination by the communities secretary.

Following a public inquiry in September 2014, planning inspector John Felgate concluded that the scheme would not constitute sustainable development and recommended that the appeal should be dismissed. A decision letter (59-page / 909 KB PDF) issued last week on behalf of the communities secretary said Pickles agreed with the inspector's conclusions.

Pickles agreed with the inspector that the Council was unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land. The inspector had said housing figures produced by the Council which were based on the Department for Communities and Local Government's household projections "in their 'raw form'" carried "little weight". The communities secretary said this "continue[d] to hold true" for updated figures produced in October 2014.

In light of the Council's shortage of deliverable housing land, Felgate had decided that policies in the adopted Winslow Neighbourhood Plan (WNP), which sought to restrict housing development outside a designated settlement boundary, were out-of-date. The inspector had therefore given "reduced weight" to the conflict of the proposal with the policies.

The decision letter said Pickles accorded "significant weight" to the conflict with the WNP policies, however, "even though its policies relevant to housing supply are out-of-date". The communities secretary considered that "these policies are very important policies in the WNP which seek to shape the development in Winslow" and that "granting planning permission would undermine the spatial strategy".

Pickles agreed with the planning inspector that the development would be "highly damaging to the area's attractive character and appearance". He considered that the scheme would be "visually harmful to the distinctiveness of the landscape" and that it might lead towards the coalescence of Winslow with the neighbouring hamlet of Shipton. The communities secretary also considered that the "permanent loss of 3.6 hectares of best and most versatile agricultural land on the site weigh[ed] against the proposal".

The communities secretary gave "substantial weight" to the proposed contribution of 100 homes, including 35% affordable homes, in an area with a shortage of housing. He also gave "significant weight" to the economic benefits of creating construction jobs and "future demand for related supply industries", and "moderate weight" to the scheme's transport benefits and the proposed provision of public open space and play space.

Notwithstanding the benefits of the scheme, Pickles was satisfied that "the development cannot be regarded as sustainable ... and that the adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the scheme's benefits".

Gladman, or any other interested party, has the right to challenge the decision in the High Court within six weeks.