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Conservation village of Boxford protected from further housing development

This s.78 planning appeal related to proposed housing development in the Conservation village of Boxford. The decision is of interest because it concerns the operation of paragraph 109 of the new NPPF in relation to highway safety in respect of an appeal where the Highway Authority had not objected on highway grounds.

On the main issue, Simon Warder BSc (Hons) DipUD(dist) MRTPI, an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government held that the proposal would have a significantly harmful effect on highway safety. It would therefore conflict with paragraph 109 of the NPPF, which states that development should be refused if it would have an unacceptable impact on highway safety or the cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe. He thus equated a significantly harmful effect on highway safety with an unacceptable impact which paragraph 109 mandates should result in the refusal of permission.

Mr Warder found that the nature of the highway principally affected, Swan Street, did not lend itself to a strict quantitative analysis and that the proposal itself would generate few if any HGV and LGV movements. The level of additional car movements would also be relatively low. However, he found that the affected highway was currently unable to cope and traffic levels were rising such that additional vehicle movements would place an additional burden on the road which would increase vehicle on vehicle and pedestrian on vehicle conflicts. ([21]-[22] and [24])

Although such a finding was sufficient to dispose of the appeal, Mr Warder also found that the development failed to comply with the need to demonstrate exceptional circumstances required by Core Strategy policy CS2 to justify development outside the built-up area boundary of the village and that there was also a breach of policy CS11.

In respect of housing land supply, the Council had claimed a 6.7 year supply and the Appellant a range of between 3.4 and 4.5 years. The Inspector concluded at [41]-[42] that:

"The Core Strategy is less than five years old. As such, Framework paragraph 73 is clear that it should be used to establish the housing requirement. The up to date Planning Practice Guidance confirms this approach (Paragraph ID: 3- 030-201809135 ) as the 'starting point' for calculating the five-year land supply 5. This version is not materially different from the draft version referred to at the Inquiry Appeal Decision APP/D3505/W/18/3197391 9 figure.

In my view, the term 'starting point' refers to the need to go on to consider the supply and delivery of sites, as set out in the remainder of the paragraph. It does not offer an invitation to go behind the requirement to use the Core Strategy for the first five years of the Plan where, for example, more up to date information becomes available. The Framework does not support that approach. On this basis, even if I were to accept the appellant's position on the availability and delivery of sites, the five-year land supply would be 4.5 years. That amounts to a relatively modest shortfall...

Even if I were to conclude that a 5 year supply of housing land has not been demonstrated and that the weight to be attached to the most important policies should be reduced accordingly, in line with Framework paragraph 11, the adverse impacts of granting permission would still significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal."

David Lintott acted for the Local Planning Authority in the Inquiry. Paul Shadarevian QC acted for the Appellant, Artisan Planning and Property Services.