The Inspector (Anne Jordan) was called upon – in dismissing an appeal against refusal of permission for 165 dwellings on land at Pear Tree Lane, Euxton, Chorley – to consider both the re-distribution of one LPA’s housing requirement across a wider Housing Market Area (HMA) and Safeguarded Land as a fn9 (restrictive) policy within the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework).
The development plan for the area comprised the Central Lancashire Joint Strategy (the JCS) and the Chorley Site Allocations and Development Management Policies Development Plan Document (the Local Plan). The JCS was jointly adopted by Chorley, Preston & South – whose combined area amounts to one HMA. The housing requirement within the JCS was a constrained figure based on the revoked Regional Spatial Strategy and not, then, a firm basis for determining the current housing requirement . The Inspector concluded, on the evidence presented to the inquiry, that Chorley’s Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAN) was 546 dpa .
Chorley, Preston & South Ribble had recently concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) setting out an agreed apportionment of the OAN between the districts based on the JCS. Following reference to Oadby & Wigston BC v. SoS  EWCA Civ 1040  over the course of the inquiry, the Inspector considered that there was ‘no reason in principle why the distribution set out in the [JCS] cannot continue to be used’  and concluded that there were, in fact, ‘good reasons to consider the JCS distribution to be acceptable in this case’ . Allowance was therefore made for 102 dwellings arising from need in Chorley being provided elsewhere in the HMA , ie a dwelling requirement within Chorley of 444 dpa .
Local Plan Policy BNE3 designated parts of Chorley including the appeal site, as safeguarded land, consistent with the guidance at paragraph 85 of the Framework . The inspector concurred with the parties that Policy BNE3 is a specific policy in the Framework which indicates that development should be restricted, so the proposed development would not be subject to the tilted balance at paragraph 14 of the Framework – even if it had been concluded that that policy was out-of-date since the Council was not able to demonstrate a five year housing land supply . The inspector observed, in the course of reaching this view, that: ‘… the release of the site within the plan period, when the Framework explicitly directs otherwise, would quite clearly fail to comply with the core principle of the Framework that planning be genuinely plan-led. I therefore attribute very substantial weight to the conflict with the development plan in the planning balance.’
To access the decision letter, please follow this link.
Simon Pickles advised Chorley on the MoU and represented the Council at the inquiry.