The importance of plan-led development and the status of Local Plan Reviews

13 Mar 2023

Planning Permission refused for 300 dwellings at Land East of Grove, Grove, Vale of the White Horse: 13 March 2023.

This s.78 planning inquiry is related to a proposed housing development beyond the built-up area boundary. The appeal for an outline application for 300 dwellings was dismissed because of the impact on landscape character and views and conflict with the Council’s spatial strategy.

On the main issues, Inspector Jonathan Bore MRTPI (appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) found that, should the proposal proceed, the scheme would lie outside the settlement boundary of Grove and would appear as an awkward eastern extension of the village; and that this would cause significant harm to the countryside and the character of the landscape, contrary to the relevant part of Core Policy 4 and Core Policy 44 of Local Plan Part 1 (see paragraph 19 of the decision).

Furthermore, he determined that Local Housing Need (“LHN”) is the appropriate figure for the five-year housing land supply calculation and that using LHN would not undermine the spatial strategy for Science Vale. Using LHN, he found more than five years’ supply of deliverable housing land in the district. Accordingly, the decision-making approach in paragraph 11(d) of the National Planning Policy Framework did not apply. The harm to the landscape and countryside would significantly outweigh the benefits of the additional housing provision and the other benefits of the scheme; that would remain the case even if there were a five-year housing land supply shortfall and the decision-making balance in paragraph 11(d) of the National Planning Policy Framework was applied.

Inspector Bore also addressed Core Policy 5 in Local Plan Part 1, which ring-fences Science Vale, where the site lies, and treats it as a separate sub-area for the assessment of housing land supply, noting that if the five-year housing land supply calculation were carried out within this area, there would be a shortfall in supply. He also noted that the Inspector, in a decision relating to East Hendred, gave weight to a housing supply shortfall in the ring-fenced area but distinguished that case finding as follows:

“16. However, things have changed since the Science Vale housing requirement was established in 2016 and the East Hendred decision was made in 2017: the lower levels of housing and employment delivery in Science Vale have been influenced by a recent combination of macroeconomic factors, and Core Policy 5, like Core Policy 4, has been reviewed under Regulation 10a (of the Town and Country (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012) and found to be out of date and in need of revision. Core Policy 5 is based on a historical calculation of housing needs. The five-year housing land supply calculation looks forward and must use an up-to-date housing need figure.”

Please click here for a copy of the decision.

Cornerstone Barristers regularly acts for both Local Planning Authorities and Developers in a wide range of planning matters. David Lintott acted for the Local Planning Authority in the Inquiry. Zack Simons acted for the Appellant. For more information, please contact 020 7242 4986 or email our clerking team.