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High Court Scotches Affordable Homes Development in Green Belt

Allocation of land for housebuilding always greatly boosts its value and is a crucial step towards development. However, as one High Court case involving a plot of rural land that had been earmarked for new homes for almost 70 years showed, such allocations are not always decisive.

The land, on the outskirts of a village, had been purchased by a local authority in 1949 with a view to housing development. However, it lay within the Green Belt and numerous attempts to develop it had ended in failure. Most recently, the local council – successor in title to the original purchaser – had granted consent for construction of 10 affordable homes on the site.

That permission was granted despite a recommendation from one of the council’s own planning officers that it should be refused. Whilst recognising the need for more affordable homes in the area, the officer had reported that such considerations were outweighed by the harm that the development would cause to the historic environment and landscape character of the area.

In quashing the consent at the behest of a local objector, the Court noted the site’s importance as a rural buffer on the edge of the village. The council had erred in its interpretation of national policy in finding that the pressing requirement for affordable homes rendered the project an appropriate development in the Green Belt.