East Riding of Yorkshire Council have successfully defended its housing land supply of 5.1 years (rounded) following a public inquiry concerning 67 proposed dwellings on an unallocated greenfield site outside the settlement boundary of Hutton Cranswick. The Inspector’s decision also provides important guidance on the meaning of deliverability in the revised NPPF.

The Inspector, Mr Philip Ware BSC DipTP MRTPI, identified two issues: (1) whether the Council could demonstrate a 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites; and (2) the impact of the development on the character and appearance of the area.

On the first issue, the Inspector agreed with the Council that its housing land supply figure was 5.1 years.  In reaching this conclusion, the Inspector considered the correct approach to deliverability:

“The appellant’s position is that the Council did not adopt an approach to deliverability in line with the definition in the Glossary to the Framework.  This states that (amongst other matters) for housing sites to be considered deliverable, they should be available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years.  The definition includes the need for clear evidence.  The 2019 Framework has ‘raised the bar’ related to deliverability in comparison with earlier Framework iterations and other national advice.  However there is no definition of what constitutes ‘clear evidence’ of future delivery and, as the appellant accepted, there is no defined minimum criterion.  In my view, the appellant – in using a ‘highly likely’ test – has raised the bar significantly above that advised in national policy and guidance.  This would make it difficult for any recently adopted plan to survive an appeal against a s78 refusal based on five year housing land supply.  In contrast, I find that the Council’s approach is soundly based on national policy and guidance.”

The Inspector also concluded that:

  • It was appropriate for the Council to rely on site specific “proformas” which had been compiled by the Council following correspondence with landowners and on the basis of a robust methodology, even though the proformas did not have the same level of formality as a Statement of Common Ground.
  • The fact that a site may be controlled by a land promoter – and not a housebuilder – does not require an automatic adjustment to that site’s deliverability.
  • Where the Council did not have any information from the landowner as to a site’s deliverability, it was appropriate for the Council to rely on its own judgment in assessing deliverability, using the expertise of its officers and a robust methodology.

On the second issue, the Inspector agreed with the Council that the development would result in a substantial adverse impact on the character and appearance of the area.  In so concluding, the Inspector found that the methodology adopted in the appellant’s LVIA was unsound and that the approach in the LVIA contradicted the approach in the appellant’s evidence at the inquiry.

Charles Banner QC and Matthew Henderson appeared for the East Riding of Yorkshire Council instructed by Peter Atkinson of the Council’s legal department.

This is the fourth time in the last three years that the Council has defended its 5 year housing land supply position at an appeal by way of public inquiry. Charles appeared in all of these appeals, with Matthew in the latter three.

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