Martin Carter, instructed by Wiltshire Council, has assisted in securing the dismissal of an appeal in relation to a scheme of up to 81 dwellings on a site close to Wiltshire’s border with Swindon. Killian Garvey acted for the Appellant.
Prior to Martin’s involvement, the inquiry had opened and adjourned on 29th January 2019, in order for the Appellant to provide further ecological evidence. These events were later the subject of a partial costs award made by the Inspector. The inquiry reopened on 4th February 2020 before a different Inspector, the original Inspector having retired in the meantime. After the adjournment, Martin had been instructed to assist.
The appeal is of interest in relation to the arguments and conclusions about housing land requirement which arose from the site’s proximity to Swindon.
The Wiltshire Core Strategy had recently become five years old, making it necessary to use the standard method to calculate requirement. The Council argued that that was the sole basis on which requirement should be addressed. The Appellant, by contrast, argued (in descending order of its preference) that (i) there was no housing requirement that applied to the site, as the Core Strategy treated a “West of Swindon” area differently from the rest of Wiltshire, (ii) alternatively, that Swindon’s housing requirement should be used to test supply, (iii) alternatively, that there was no supply in Wiltshire which complied with paragraph 73 of the revised NPPF, because the base date of the latest assessment was too old, and (iv) on the local housing need, Wiltshire did not have a supply. It became common ground during the inquiry that Wiltshire did not have sufficient supply based on the local housing need figure for Wiltshire, the agreed range being 4.42 to 4.62 years.
The Inspector concluded that there was no basis for using any approach other than the local housing need calculated using the standard method.
The Inspector also concluded that the appeal site was not a suitable location for development as it was in conflict with the development strategy of the Core Strategy. He also found that the proposal would breach the Purton Neighbourhood Plan and that the requirements of paragraph 14 of the NPPF were met. He found it would cause some landscape and visual harm. He concluded that the scheme could secure ecological benefits, potentially returning grassland to priority habitat status and that it would cause no harm to protected species.
Overall, he concluded that the appeal should be dismissed because the conflict with the development strategy in the Core Strategy and the Neighbourhood Plan significantly and demonstrably outweighed the benefits of the scheme.
The decision can be found here.