Affordable housing and self-build and custom housebuilding help to demonstrate Very Special Circumstances in appeal success

June 18, 2021 1:56 pm Published by

Tetlow King Planning are delighted to have assisted in the appeal success for 100 dwellings on land off Bullens Green Lane, Colney Heath on behalf of Canton Ltd. The site is located in Green Belt between St Albans City and District and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councils.

James Stacey, Senior Director, provided expert evidence on the need for affordable housing in both St Albans and Welwyn Hatfield, with Associate Director, Andy Moger, providing expert evidence on the need for self-build and custom housebuilding.

In light of the evidence of James Stacey, Inspector Masters found at paragraph 53 that both local authorities had an accumulated shortfall in the delivery of affordable housing in the region of 4,000 dwellings each. She went on at paragraph 54 to explain that:

“The persistent under delivery of affordable housing in both local authority areas presents a critical situation. Taking into account the extremely acute affordable housing position in both SADC and WHBC, I attach very substantial weight to the delivery of up to 45 affordable homes in this location in favour of the proposals.”

In response to the evidence of Andy Moger in respect of self-build, Inspector Masters explained at paragraph 50 that “the Government attaches great importance to the provision of this element of the supply” and that “the Planning Practice Guidance advises that local authorities should use the demand data from registers, supported by additional data from secondary sources, to understand and consider future need for this type of housing in their area”.

 She went on to find, at paragraph 51, that “neither authority has an up to date assessment fo likely future demand for this type pf housing in line with the Planning Practice Guidance” noting that “the appellant provided detailed evidence in relation to the Custom Build Register, none of which was disputed.” Inspector Masters also found that “evidence also presented demonstrated that the statutory duty to provided for base period plot provision has also not been met in either authority, in some periods by a significant margin. Taking into account other secondary data sources, these shortfalls may well be on the conservative side.”

Inspector Masters then states at paragraph 52 that:

“In common with both market housing and affordable housing, the situation in the context of provision of sites and past completions is a particularly poor one. To conclude, I am of the view that the provision of 10 self-build serviced plots at the appeal sites will make a positive contribution to the supply of self-build plots in both local planning authority areas. I am attaching substantial weight to this element of housing supply”.

In drawing together her conclusions at paragraph 78 of her report, Inspector Masters found harm by reason of inappropriateness and to openness attributing substantial weight to both. However, she also found there to be acute housing delivery shortages in both authority areas and acute affordable housing need before concluding that:

“The proposals would make a contribution towards addressing these needs in the form of market, self-build and affordable housing in both WHBC and SADC. I have attached very substantial weight to the provision of both market housing and affordable housing. I have attached substantial weight to the provision of self-build housing. These factors, when considered collectively demonstrate that very special circumstances do exist”

Counsel for the appellant was Zack Simons of Landmark Chambers. Expert evidence was also provided by Russell Gray (Planning) and John Freeman (Highways) of Woods Hardwick Planning, Gary Holliday (Landscape) of FPCR Environment and Design and Andrew Crutchley (Heritage) of Environmental Design Partnership. The expert evidence of Ben Pycroft (housing land supply) of Emery Planning on behalf of the appellant was uncontested by the Council.