An outline planning application was submitted in September 2017 for the erection of up to 81 dwellings. That application was refused by Wiltshire Council in early March 2018 and, later, on appeal in early April 2020 (when it was also changed to 79 dwellings) it was refused again.
The appeal was refused for three reasons:
- Outside of the settlement boundary (in other words in open countryside);
- It would result in the urbanisation of what is a rural site; and
- No provision for affordable housing on the site; financial contributions towards early years education facility provision, public open space and play equipment or ongoing maintenance and waste and recycling facilities.
Since then, the developer has been busy and, a month later in May 2020, applied to the High Court for permission to bring a claim for statutory review; this was refused based on review of documentation; then they tried again just two months later and that was refused too, after an oral hearing. Then the developer tried to apply to the Court of Appeal. This was refused at the end of February 2021. By then, the developer had finally run out of courts.
So, back the developer comes, now arguing that things have changed; not least that the Neighbourhood Plan and the Wiltshire Core Strategy (the big housing strategy for the county) are becoming older.
The developer argues that its proposal whilst still in the open countryside is fine because the Wilshire Core Strategy (the main planning tool) is more than five years old. The only reason this would matter is if there was not a five year housing land supply across the county. The developer argues that this “tilts” the balance in their favour citing a land supply of only 4.2 years (except that the actual land supply is 4.6 years) so not much of a “tilt”.
The developer has declined to contest that the proposal would result in urbanisation of this rural location, though argues that the other reasons (housing land supply and ageing county and local plans) outweigh the acknowledged harm.
The developer overcomes the third reason by coughing up the dosh.
So, it all comes down to whether a 4.6 year supply plus some money outweighs building in a rural location resulting in its urbanisation. It is a question of balance. The developer says it is OK (well, they would, would they not?) yet another couple of housing developments being considered right now elsewhere in the county, if permitted (giving a greater than five year supply) tilts the balance the other way.
So, should countryside be used up, when the argument is so finely balanced just through pressure and argument of a developer in a rush, or should the various plans (which are being updated anyway) determine where housing goes. So, for the sake of a few months, which is the fairer and more democratic approach?
You can make your views known at: click here
then click on “Make Representation” (towards the top right of the screen) and follow the instructions.
This must be done by 6 October
Documents relating to the Appeal may be found here
(you will need to click on the Document Date twice to bring the most recent documents to the top of the list)