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Phasing policies can trump need for housing post NPPF

In dismissing an appeal made by Fairview New Homes from the decision of Runnymede BC to refuse permission for the erection of 89 residential units including 22 affordable units the inspector identified the main issue as being whether the release of the site was necessary to meet the housing needs of the borough and, if not, whether the benefits of the scheme would outweigh any harm arising out of the development.

The inspector accepted that the Council could demonstrate a five year housing land supply although there was a substantial need for additional affordable housing. The inspector's approach to what is sufficient to amount to compelling evidence of future delivery of windfall sites is of interest.

Of greater interest is the inspector's approach to the safeguarding and phasing policies adopted by RBC prior to the NPPF coming into force. He decided that the principles underlying such policies were consistent with the Green Belt ("GB") guidance in the NPPF; but that even if that was wrong there were grounds to consider that the harm arising from release of the land would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The essence of that harm was that the safeguarding policies were an integral part of the policy of GB protection in a borough that was 79% washed by GB. The inspector concluded that developing the site now would make it unavailable should the need arise for it in future leading to undue constraint on development in the borough, or pressure on the release of further GB land. It was that harm which significantly and demonstrably outweighed the various benefits of the scheme.

The decision will be welcomed by local planning authorities applying similar kinds of safeguarding policies.

For decision letter please click: Wick Road 2013 DL

Wayne Beglan appeared for Runnymede Borough Council