The appeal was concerned with an application for outline permission for 125 houses. The appeal site lay in a trading estate which was designated as employment land in the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan. The relevant policy in the neighbourhood plan expressly stated that housing would not be permitted on existing industrial sites. The neighbourhood plan was made shortly before the determination of the original application and the Council refused the application for breach of this policy without any level of public benefit that would justify the loss of employment use and breach of policy.

At the appeal the Appellant sought to argue that the evidence base that informed the neighbourhood plan was out date with regards to both employment land and housing requirements. The Alnwick Town Council took part in the Inquiry as a rule 6 party and supported the Council’s refusal on the grounds that the appeal proposal was clearly contrary to a very recently made neighbourhood plan and that the plan remained up to date.

The final day of the Inquiry took place on the day of publication of the revised NPPF and so the appeal was determined under the new national policy. This required up dated submissions from all parties to the appeal and the Town Council submitted that the changes to national policy re-affirmed the importance of neighbourhood planning.

The Inspector in dismissing the appeal found that the relevant policy of the neighbourhood plan was not out of date and was consistent with the NPPF, rejecting the Appellant’s arguments to the contrary. The Inspector went on to find that allowing the appeal would have a harmful impact upon the town’s supply of employment land which would not be outweighed by any benefits of the scheme. Furthermore, the Inspector also acknowledged the Town Council’s and local businesses’ concerns about the impact housing development would have on the continued viability of existing businesses located on the trading estate.

The decision will be of some reassurance to those involved in the production of neighbourhood plans that restrictive policies can be determinative when considering the acceptability of planning proposals.

Read the Appeal decision here.

Freddie was instructed by Doug Claxton of Burnetts solicitors and called Peter Biggers of Argyle Planning Consultancy Ltd.


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