July 25 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, June 14, 2014
A council’s housing provision failures will play a crucial role in the result of a contentious planning inquiry, which closed this week.
Hopkins Homes’ appeal against the rejection of its 26 dwellings development in Yoxford has focused heavily on Suffolk Coastal District Council’s inability to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply – a key requirement under planning regulations.
Trevor Ivory, closing for the developer, referred to national guidelines, which call for a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” because the council’s housing policies “are considered out of date”.
Citing the district’s “urgent need” for new housing and Yoxford’s role as a “key service centre” to help deliver that, Mr Ivory argued the proposal’s benefits far outweighed its negatives and should therefore be approved.
Jonathan Clay, for the council, acknowledged the five-year supply failure but argued that the shortfall should not automatically permit developments which “drive a coach and horses” through other policies.
“The appellant saw a narrow window of opportunity... for a development that would be, on its own merits, unacceptable because of its effect on a valued rural and historic landscape,” he concluded.
Throughout the inquiry, which started in February and resumed on Wednesday, Yoxford residents and the council highlighted problems with the development as reasons to refuse.
Its intrusion into the historic parkland of Grove Park, the dangers of stray balls from the neighbouring cricket club and the need to fell “important trees” were all highlighted as reasons for refusal. Complaints about the “inward looking” design plan were also raised.
In response, Mr Ivory argued the site’s heritage value, having been used as farmland, was of “low significance”. He said netting could minimise the cricket concerns. And he argued concerns about the development’s negative impact on the landscape represented a “Luddite” view that ignored the potential for change to be positive.
Closing the Old High Road inquiry, planning inspector Tim Wood said it would be “seven to eight weeks” before the results were presented.
Hopkins Homes made a request for the council to cover the inquiry costs.