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Housing Scarcity Heaps Pressure on Local Authorities

In an age of housing scarcity, local authorities face an uphill struggle in contesting home-building proposals, however controversial they may be. In one case, a city council failed to block plans for 120 new homes in an area viewed as of particular landscape importance.

The council had refused planning consent for the development, but that decision was reversed by a government planning inspector following a public inquiry. He found that that the proposals would not harm the city’s landscape setting and would have no damaging impact on traffic and highway safety. He also ruled that the project was needed in order to meet the council’s home-building targets.

In dismissing the council’s challenge to that decision, the High Court found that the inspector had given due weight to the contribution made by student accommodation to the five-year supply of housing land in the city. Given the inspector’s findings in respect of harm, the case in favour of the development was overwhelming and his decision to grant planning permission was inevitable.