Housing Development on Greenfield Site Receives High Court Blessing

In an era of booming demand for homes, local authorities are under a duty to make long-term plans for delivery of housing land and to ensure that such targets are met. In one case, a council’s poor record in doing that played a decisive part in planning consent being granted for 56 new residences on a Greenfield site.

The site was viewed as a windfall in that it had not been allocated for housing in the area’s development plan. Against the advice of its officers, the council had refused planning consent principally on grounds that the houses would be too close together, resulting in a loss of greenery and inadequate replacement landscaping.

In allowing the developer’s appeal and granting planning permission, however, a government planning inspector noted that the council’s plan for long-term delivery of housing sites was hugely ambitious but that its record of forecasting and delivery were below par.  At a time when management action was called for to increase delivery rates, the project’s contribution to meeting housing demand outweighed any impact it might have on the area’s character and appearance.

The development would include 16 units of affordable housing and the inspector found that the project was sustainable in both landscape and ecological terms. In rejecting the council’s challenge to the inspector’s decision, the High Court found that the reasons he gave could have left the council in no doubt as to why he had reached the rational conclusions he did.

Dartford Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anr. Case Number: CO/4570/2015