Planning Inspectorate goes against national planning guidance

Oakington Scheme, Cambridgeshire

It was announced last week that a Planning Inspector has dismissed an appeal for the refusal of planning permission for a scheme of seven houses in Oakington. This is on the grounds of a demand for provision of affordable housing at the site, despite the number of units being below the threshold of Government guidance.

 

Currently guidance from Government is that only schemes of 10 units and above have to provide affordable housing, whilst any schemes under 10 units are exempt. The guidance was issued in November 2014 and designed to encourage developers to bring forward smaller schemes without the high costs associated with larger sites. The appeal decision could result in a decrease in building throughout the region as developers assess the viability of having to provide affordable housing on schemes under 10 units, and this could be repeated across neighbouring councils.   

This appeal decision could have a serious impact on the provision of housing in the Cambridgeshire area explains Jon Jennings, Director at Cheffins Planning and Development Department, he comments:  

“This is a surprising turn of events from the Planning Inspector and this decision has the potential to be detrimental to South Cambs’ development and provision of housing. The reality is that if this decision is upheld, a number of smaller schemes which are currently with the South Cambs District Council could come into jeopardy and will be contradictory to the Government’s rhetoric around ‘getting Britain building.’ Developers need to consider the financial viability of having to include affordable homes in smaller sites and there is a possibility that they will become reluctant to take on more modest schemes and would rather wait for this decision to be reversed. Against a backdrop of the shortfall in delivery of housing the Cambridgeshire area, it would be prudent to encourage as many sites such as the one at Oakington as possible. There certainly is a local need and there have long been affordability issues around Cambridgeshire’s housing, due to the boom in the area’s investment, industry and population, however this shouldn’t be to the detriment of providing smaller, village-based schemes. Other, larger sites need to be built in order to quench the local need for affordable homes, especially for younger employees of large tech companies coming to the region. It is still unknown whether this decision will be upheld and in the meantime, we would like to encourage anyone who has questions regarding the issue to give us a call at Cheffins. We are happy to advise on of the effect this could have on surrounding councils and schemes currently in the Cambridgeshire pipeline.”

For more information please click here to contact the Planning Team.

 

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