The case indicates support for a disaggregated approach to assessing a five year housing supply in certain circumstances and emphasises the importance of neighbourhood plan policy.
The Council's core strategy had been adopted in 2012 and the appellants claimed at the inquiry that the assessment of housing need was now out of date and had been prepared in the context of the revoked regional strategy. The appellants had sought to argue that much of the examination into the Core Strategy had been undertaken prior to the publication of the national planning policy framework (NPPF) and that various court judgments had emphasised the need to make an objective assessment of the full, unconstrained housing need. A more up-to-date strategic housing market assessment (SHMA) was available, they stated, which suggested that the Council needed to plan for a greater level of house building. They also asserted that the housing supply figures should be based on the district as a whole and not just that part of the district within which the appeal site fell.
In upholding the position argued for by the Council, the Inspector noted that the adopted strategy focused on concentrating the majority of new housing within the largest town which was well placed to accommodate further growth, and held that neither the NPPF nor the practice guidance specifically ruled out a disaggregated approach to assessing housing land supply. Siphoning off some of the need to even a large village such as that adjacent to the appeal site, would dilute the adopted strategy. On this basis a five-year supply of housing land had been demonstrated.
In developing behind the existing limit of development the scheme would involve an outward expansion of built development which would fail to preserve its setting or maintain the natural beauty of the area and would be contrary to the recently made Neighbourhood Plan. The grass paddocks would be changed to a small housing estate which would not maintain the character or local distinctiveness of the locality and would harm the AONB. Whilst it might not be any more harmful than the development of allocated sites for housing, the scheme had to be determined on its merits. The Inspector held that the harm clearly outweighed the benefits and the appeal was dismissed.
Tom Cosgrove appeared for the Council at the inquiry. A copy of the appeal decision can be found here.