Appeal success at Land off Westwells Road, Neston, Corsham aided by Affordable Housing and Self-Build Evidence

March 17, 2021 11:11 am Published by

Tetlow King Planning (TKP) are very pleased to have assisted in the appeal success for 81 dwellings on the edge of Corsham, Wiltshire, on behalf of Summix SRD Developments Limited (TKP ref: M19/0108).

James Stacey, Senior Director, provided expert evidence on the need for affordable housing and Andy Moger, Associate Director, gave expert evidence in respect of demand for self-build and custom housebuilding serviced plots within Wiltshire.

 

Inspector Owen Woodwards affirmed at paragraph 6 of his report that “the weight to be attached to the provision of affordable and self-build/custom build housing are key components of both parties cases.”

The appeal proposed 30% affordable housing (24 homes) in accordance with adopted policy. In addressing this at paragraph 61 of his report, the Inspector stated:

“The Council is not currently meeting its targets for affordable housing provision, with a shortfall of 489 homes, or 23%, against its objectively assessed need. The provision of 24 affordable units as part of the proposed development would help to redress this.”

The Inspector went on to state that:

“The provision only complies with Policy CP43 of the CS, rather than exceeding it, but this does not diminish the fact that the proposal would result in the provision of 24 much needed affordable homes.” (Paragraph 61)

Before providing his conclusions, the Inspector addressed the Council’s claim that the proposal’s conflict with the location policies of the local plan should reduce the weight to be given to affordable housing.

“The Council has stated that the conflict with Policies CP1 and CP2 reduces the weight to be applied to the provision of affordable housing. However, as set out above, I place limited weight on the conflict with these policies. I therefore attach substantial positive weight to the proposed provision of affordable housing.” (Paragraph 61)

In addition to affordable housing, eight of the residential units were proposed as self-build/custom build homes. Although there was no adopted policy requiring self-build/custom build on site, at paragraph 62 the Inspector recognised the duty of the Council with regard to The Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015:

“The Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (the Act) as amended places a statutory duty on Council’s to keep a register of people and groups who want to construct a self-build/custom build property, and to have regard to that register when making planning decisions. The Act also states that a Council must give sufficient permissions for self-build/custom build housing to meet demand within each ‘base period’. Each ‘base period’ is one year. Councils are provided with three years grace from the end of each ‘base period’ to provide the required planning permissions.”

In addressing the Council’s supply, the Inspector found the Council’s evidence to be insufficient, leading him to conclude that a shortfall in self-build/custom build supply did in fact exist:

“The Council has provided evidence that it is meeting its requirement to give sufficient planning permissions for self-build/custom build housing. However, these calculations include all planning permissions for single dwellings. Very few of these are secured by a s106 agreement to be self-build/custom build housing or have applied for the relevant CIL exemption for self-build/custom build projects. Not all of them include specific references to self-build/custom build within the planning applications. Once this is factored in, the Council has a shortfall in planning permissions for self-build/custom build homes against its requirement for the current ‘base period’ monitoring period – Base Period 2.” (Paragraph 63)

The Inspector went on to state at paragraph 64:

“The PPG sets out that these are the types of methods that may be used to determine if an application or permission is for self-build/custom build housing. I acknowledge that using this specific data collection methodology is not a requirement. However, I have not been provided with any convincing evidence in other forms to override the data provided by these methods. The UU secures eight of the proposed houses to be self-build/custom build, although this is only for one year, following which they may revert to market homes. In the context of the current failure of the Council to meet its statutory duty to provide sufficient planning permissions to meet its requirements but acknowledging that the self-build/custom build units have not been secured in perpetuity, I place moderate positive weight on the proposed provision of self-build/custom build housing as part of the appeal scheme.”

In undertaking the planning balance exercise at paragraph 66, the Inspector found that “The provision of housing, including affordable housing and self-build/custom build housing, and contributions towards local infrastructure all weigh positively in the planning balance.”

Overall, the Inspector considered that the proposal would comply with the development plan when considered as a whole, and subsequently allowed the appeal.

Counsel for the appellant was Richard Kimblin QC of No.5 Chambers. Expert evidence was also provided by Marrons Planning (Planning), Pegasus (Housing Land Supply), and RSK Group (Flood Risk).