Today the Secretary of State refused an appeal by Wavendon Properties Limited against the refusal by Milton Keynes Council to grant planning permission for 203 dwellings at land to the east of Newport Road and to the east and west of Cranfield Road, Woburn Sands.
In dismissing the appeal, the Secretary of State concluded that the Council could demonstrate a five year housing land supply (“5YHLS”). This is the second recent confirmation that the Council can demonstrate a 5YHLS after an Inspector reached the same conclusion in April following an appeal concerning land at Rectory Farm, Woburn Sands. Both appeals were heard by way of public inquiry and resolve the doubt over the Council’s 5YHLS arising from conflicting appeal decisions in late 2019.
The Secretary of State’s decision is noteworthy in two general respects.
First, the Secretary of State concluded that it is acceptable that the evidence of deliverability can post-date the base date provided that it is used to support sites identified as deliverable as at the base date. In so concluding, the Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector who had considered a number of appeal decisions on this point, including the Woolpit appeal decision which is often relied upon to support a “narrow” approach to the evidence of deliverability.
Secondly, the Secretary of State refused to make any discount to the Council’s housing land supply on the basis of Covid-19, concluding that the appellant’s evidence was insufficiently detailed and specific.