Affordable Housing Case Key to Weston-super-Mare Appeal Success

March 18, 2015 12:29 pm Published by

In his approval issued on 18 March 2015, the Inspector, Mr G D Jones, concluded on a 4 day public inquiry in January 2015 at which he considered a range of evidence brought against North Somerset Council.  Tetlow King Planning (TKP) acted as part of the team representing the appellant Summerfield Developments (SW) Ltd.

The Council had refused outline consent in June 2014 for residential development (with capacity for around 72 dwellings) on an old employment allocation adjacent to junction 21 of the M5 motorway.  It has been owned and marketed by the appellant for over a decade and has an unimplemented B1 consent.

The Inspector agreed that, despite lack of take up, there has been sufficient marketing of the site for offices in and out of recession.  In contrast, he noted that the Council has not conducted a thorough review of its employment potential for a significant period of time.  He agreed that the release of the site for housing would not be detrimental to the strategic development of the motorway junction for employment uses on other, more prominent sites, which are in plentiful supply.

TKP’s evidence focused primarily on affordable housing.  The Council conceded prior to the inquiry on five year supply; agreeing on a range of between 1.4 and 4.4 years with the former being the figure put forward for the appellant.

The Inspector highlighted that there was no objectively assessed need for affordable housing against which to assess performance but accepted our evidence that even the minimum plan target of 150 affordable homes per annum was not being met, and that the housing waiting list and other indicators revealed a significant shortfall.  The sustainability of the site in respect of its suburban location and ability to increase the supply and choice of housing were thus cited as benefits.

In allowing the appeal he noted that: 

“Although the proposed development would only deliver in the region of 22 affordable homes and 50 market homes, it would make a valuable contribution to identified housing need.  For the reasons outlined, I find that the need for both market and affordable housing carries substantial weight in favour of the proposal” (paragraph 52 of Inspector’s Report APP/D0121/A/14/2223975).

We are especially pleased with this decision as it comes at a time when very few large appeals are being allowed, ahead of the General Election. General planning evidence was presented by WYG and marketing by Alder King. The appellants advocate was Christopher Young of No.5 Chambers.

The appeal can be viewed here.