Tetlow King Planning’s evidence on self-build and custom housebuilding helps secure appeal success in Waverley

December 22, 2022 12:52 pm Published by

The appeal against non-determination for the erection of five self-build/custom build dwellings on land at Dunsfold Common, Godalming in Waverley District was allowed on 2nd December 2022.

Tetlow King Planning provided expert evidence on the need for, and supply of, self-build and custom housebuilding in Waverley Borough. The appeal team was led by Janet Long (planning) and Charlie Banner KC and expert evidence was also provided at the Hearing by Andrew Cook (landscape) and Patrick Maguire (heritage).

The appeal site was located outside of settlement limits, in an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) and within the setting of Grade II listed heritage assets.

Two of the three reasons that would have constituted reasons for refusal cited by the Council related to heritage and landscape. The Council argued that the proposal would result in harm to the significance of the heritage asset, and that a harmful urbanising impact on the intrinsic character and beauty of the Countryside would fail to preserve the existing rural landscape character.

The Inspector concluded on these points that:

  • “Whilst at the lower end of ‘less than substantial harm’ the proposal would nonetheless result in harm to the significance of the listed building; and
  • The proposed development would result in some, albeit moderate, harm to the AGLV and the wider countryside.”

He went on to note that “the difference between these positions is relatively minor on the scale of harm but in policy terms it is substantial in that any harm found should be afforded substantial weight in the decision-making process”. Consequently, it was necessary for the appellants to demonstrate that the benefits of the scheme were sufficient to outweigh the identified harms.

Tetlow King Planning Director, Andy Moger, gave evidence on the extent of unmet demand for self-build and custom housebuilding within the authority area, highlighting the Council’s failure to have undertaken a robust assessment of demand in line with the provisions of the PPG and their persistent failure to meet their statutory duty to grant a sufficient number of suitable permissions to meet Self-Build Register demand.

The Council introduced new material during the Hearing which they purported to be the latest position in respect of self-build register numbers for the authority area. However, Tetlow King Planning were successfully able to rebut this and highlight to the Inspector that the Council had failed to include figures from the first two Base Periods in their revised position with those first two Base Periods alone cumulatively constituting demand for 209 plots – which significantly outstripped the Councils claimed supply figures across all seven Base Periods to date.

In his decision, Inspector Plenty found that Waverley was unable to demonstrate that the current delivery of self-build and custom housebuilding is meeting – or above – the number the Council was required to provide.  He concluded that:

“the Council is not meeting its statutory duty with respect to the delivery of plots for Custom and Self-Build dwellings and I give this significant weight in my consideration of the merits of the proposal”.

This significant weight, along with the weight afforded to the Council’s inability to demonstrate an up-to-date five-year housing land supply, was sufficient to overcome the adverse impacts of the scheme.

The serviced plots were secured by way of an appropriately worded condition which the Council agreed was adequate to secure the plots in line with the legislative definition within the 2015 Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act (as amended).

The appeal decision further serves to highlight the importance to local authorities of giving due consideration to the duty that the self-build and custom housebuilding legislation places upon them to meet the needs of those wishing to build or commission their own home and the consequences of failing to do so.