Woolpit Appeal Decision
Many of you will know that the decision by MSDC to reject the Application to build 49 houses on the East side of Green Road, Woolpit was over turned on Appeal. The development will now go ahead. The report of the Planning Inspector can be found here: Appeal Decision 3194926 – PDF
The decision is relevant to Fressingfield, but the circumstances are different. We have always maintained that proposed major developments in Fressingfield are not sustainable.
The Inspector based his decision in part on his opinion that 5 year land supply figures produced by Mid Suffolk were too high. This criticism has lead the Council to issue a public statement which is shown below:
Statement on the Appeal Decision relating to
Land On The East Side Of Green Road, Woolpit
Land On The East Side Of Green Road, Woolpit, Suffolk
Erection of 49 dwellings (including 17 affordable dwellings) and construction of new
Appeal allowed and Planning Permission granted
The outcome of this appeal is disappointing given that the Councils decision was reached following a committee site visit and in a democratic committee meeting which was well attended by members of the local community.
The Committee accepted the considerable concerns of the community that this development and proposed highways mitigation would cause harm to the Woolpit Conservation Area and setting of listed buildings in the village.
As is usual in such cases the Council was represented by experienced professional witnesses in relation to planning, highways and heritage matters. It is clear from the appeal decision that these issues, and the concerns of the community, were given careful consideration.
These important heritage issues were of such weight to the Council that the presumption in favour of sustainable development was not considered to apply to this proposal.
With that in mind the Council considered that the issue of housing land supply was not the key matter. Nevertheless our witnesses presented evidence on this point, which had been raised by the appellant after the publication of the Annual Monitoring Report, so as to rebut the assertion that the Council did not have a 5 year housing land supply.
It is a matter of record that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) issued in July 2018, after the publication of the Councils Annual Monitoring Report, introduced a new methodology for the calculation of need and a new definition of what constitutes a deliverable site. In the appeal officers considered that they presented appropriate evidence as to both the need for, and supply of, deliverable sites but the Inspector found against us on these matters. It is clear from this decision that the new NPPF has significantly raised the bar in the evidence required to demonstrate deliverability and the Inspector in this instance has unhelpfully taken a particularly strict interpretation of that definition.
We are immediately putting in hand work to re-evaluate our calculation of deliverable sites and to pro-actively review with developers the evidence of deliverability for allocated sites or those with outline planning permission across the District. This review will be undertaken through October as a matter of priority.
Notwithstanding the land supply question it is significant that the Inspector highlighted that the new NPPF promotes sustainable development in rural areas where it will enhance or maintain vitality for rural communities and does not follow past principles of protecting the countryside for its own sake. In this respect the Inspector has found that policies CS1 and CS2 of the 2008 Core Strategy are inconsistent with the balancing approach of the new NPPF to development outside settlements. Councillors may recall that the Core Strategy was previously accepted as being in accordance with the original NPPF. This Inspector has been especially challenging in drawing these conclusions.
Regardless of the question as to whether the Council does or does not have a 5 year housing land supply it is now clear that the adopted Core Strategy policies need to be revisited in our Joint Local Plan and policies adopted which better reflect a less restrictive approach to development outside settlements.
It is therefore regrettable that the Inspector disagreed with us and concluded that with the off-site highway works secured by planning condition there would be no unacceptable residual highway or pedestrian safety impacts. We cannot share the Inspectors conclusions on heritage impacts but recognise that these have been reached through due appeal process.
Whilst this outcome is not what the Council wished to see, the issues were quite specific to this proposal and the Council will continue to attach great weight to safeguarding the Woolpit Conservation Area and Listed Buildings from future harm in accordance with its statutory duties.
Councillor Glen Horn
Cabinet Member for Planning
Two other recent Appeals against refusal for small developments in Debenham and Stonham Aspal were rejected by the Inspector.
Mid Suffolk Demonstrates 5 Year Housing Land Supply
On Wednesday 11th July 2018 Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Councils published its Annual Monitoring Report, which demonstrates a Housing Land Supply of 6.5 years – meeting the government’s requirement of 5 Years.
Press Release in full below, as well as links to the Annual Monitoring Report webpage and PDF of the report in full:
Mid Suffolk District Council today published its Annual Monitoring Report, demonstrating a Housing Land Supply of 6.5 years – meeting the government’s requirement of 5 Years.
As of today, Wednesday 11 July, the Council considers it can demonstrate this land supply, meaning that Mid Suffolk can prove that there is enough deliverable land to meet the number of homes that need to be built over that period to meet housing need.
The Council has been unable to demonstrate this land supply since April 2017, but now the updated figure has been made possible as a result of a proactive approach to delivery.
The National Planning Policy Framework specifies that, if the Council cannot demonstrate a 5 year Housing Land Supply local planning policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up to date and thus carry less weight.
With the publication of the updated 5 year land supply position planning officers will now be reviewing all current application and pre-application enquiries on which this has a bearing. This includes all applications for which formal planning permission has not yet been issued.
Cllr David Whybrow, Mid Suffolk District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “We’ve had to take some tough decisions over the past few years, and more than once some of our Planning Committee Members found themselves sitting for 12 hours a day, but that hard work has now paid off: with a 5 Year Land Supply in place, we can address the housing need in our district and ensure we build the right houses in the right places, with more input at a local level. We’ve also taken steps to guarantee we maintain this land supply, with money set aside in this year’s budget to bring stalled developments back on track: this will ensure we continue to meet the government’s requirement and continue to give local plans the weight they deserve.
“Thanks to this work, we have greater control to implement the planning policies that our Members have voted for, and are in a stronger position to refuse inappropriate proposals from developers across Mid Suffolk.”
The full Annual Monitoring Report is available online.
The new NPPF has now been published and is the first revision since 2012. The document is the overarching strategic policy document published by central Government to which all Local Authorities must conform when producing Local Development Plans. It is effectively the “rule book” for Development Plans.
The new NPPF is not very dissimilar to the previous document retaining the presumption in favour of granting Approval to Planning Applications BUT there is a very strong emphasis in only approving Applications which can be proven to be sustainable. (section 2.8) A presumption of sustainable development depends on demonstrating that any beneficial effects are not outweighed by adverse impacts.
The Government in its covering paper to the document states ” The revised NPPF will be a vital tool in ensuring that we get Planning for the right homes in the right places of the right quality at the same time as protecting our environment.”
Applications should improve the economic and social environment. In the rural setting planning should allow for high quality walking and cycling routes. The environmental impact of transport infrastructure is particularly important. Planning Policies should reduce greenhouse gasses and avoid increased vulnerability for climate change. Flood risk should be managed and should not be increased elsewhere by the development. Developments should be visibly attractive, sympathetic to the landscape, maintain heritage and make a positive contribution to local character. Undeveloped land may be important for ecological pathways, wildlife in general, flood risk mitigation, cooling, carbon storage and food production.
SAFE believes the above criteria are clearly not met by the three major Applications currently under consideration for Fressingfield.
JEC, PEC 15 August 2018
Spring Statement: Chancellor of the Exchequer: 13 March 2018
Review of the transcript of the Chancellor’s Statement stated over the next 5 years £44 billion would be spent to support the housing market and on average to supply 300,000 units per year to the mid 2020s. London will receive £1.67 billion to start building a further 27,000 affordable houses by 2021. There was no specific mention of rural areas.
The Chancellor reaffirmed Government Policy on building new homes:-
” We will focus on urban areas where people want to live and where most jobs are created.”
“Making the best use of our urban land.”
“In particular building high quality, high density homes in city centres and around transport hubs.”
SAFE : – SCC Highways Paper Response
SAFE has also been involved in providing detailed responses to documents such as –
Response: SAFE La Ronde Wright Response
Letter to Councillor Jane Storey: Highways & Transport in Rural Areas
The Draft Joint Local Plan Regarding the misrepresentation of Fressingfield as a Primary Village.
Response: SAFE – Central Government NPPF Response
Dr. Razaq – Fressingfield Sewerage – Dr. Abdul Razaq giving advice for exposure to flooding and sewage.