The Secretary of State has reaffirmed the importance of affordable housing provision as a material planning consideration in approving a proposal for up to 135 dwellings and associated open space and infrastructure on a 7.3 hectare greenfield site on the edge of Burbage, at Hinckley, Leicestershire.
40% of the proposed development (up to 54 dwellings) by Rainier Properties Ltd was put forward as affordable housing; compared with the 20% sought in the approved Core Strategy.
Robin Tetlow, Chairman, Tetlow King Planning (TKP) provided planning and affordable housing evidence at the eight day inquiry to underpin this affordable housing offer and to justify the weight that should be accorded to it.
The Secretary of State ultimately agreed with the Inspector that the need for affordable housing was ‘acute’ and warranted the provision offered by the appeal proposal. Furthermore, the Secretary of State agreed that the benefits of the proposal, particularly the affordable housing provision, outweighed the limited conflict with the policies of the adopted Core Strategy and the limited environmental harm identified in order to constitute sustainable development. These judgments were crucially underpinned by his conclusion of a lack of an overall five year housing land supply.
The Secretary of State endorsed all the conclusions of the Inspector relative to affordable housing. These included the following key points:
- The TKP evidence demonstrated that the ‘modest’ 20% affordable housing target in the Core Strategy would inevitably lead to a failure to meet ‘the full objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area’. Credence was given to our five year affordable housing land supply calculations ranging from 0.7 years (in relation to the SHMA) and barely 2.8 years (in relation to the Core Strategy).
- The evidence demonstrated an ‘acute’ need for affordable housing both across the Borough and in Burbage.
- The proposal would help to meet an ‘acute need’ that would not otherwise be met.
- The mix of tenure, size and type of homes geared to cater for starter homes, families and the elderly and would contribute positively to the housing and social mix of both the development and of Burbage.
- The TKP evidence that the private rented sector should not be regarded as an appropriate alternative was accepted. The Inspector agreed that whilst the private rented sector does serve as an essential ‘stop-gap’ for some in affordable housing need it does not offer the security of tenure and any of the longer term safeguards offered by bona fide affordable housing delivered, allocated, managed and maintained by local authorities and/or registered providers.
- The Inspector agreed that it would be inappropriate for the provision of the affordable homes should not be limited to those currently living in the locality of Burbage. He accepted that Burbage should not be treated as an isolated rural village; it was an integral part of the only sub-regional centre and main urban area in the Borough.
The full decision, including both the Secretary of State letter and the accompanying Inspector’s Report, can be read here.
TKP formed part of a comprehensive professional team also including Cerda Planning, FPCR Environment and Design, Barton Willmore, David Tucker Associates and Hepworth Acoustics Ltd.
The advocate was Christopher Young of No.5 Chambers.