A planning inspector has allowed plans for 30 Self Build plots in Woodville, Swadlincote, following North West Leicestershire District Council’s (NWLDC) initial refusal to grant outline planning permission.
Lauren Land Developments originally applied for 30 Custom and Self Build plots with new access, on land outside the limits to development as defined by the local plan. The 1.9 hectare site is bound on two sides by a recent large-scale housing development.
The application was for a range of plots between 290 sq. m to 597sq. m, with the siting of the houses on the plots dealt with through a design code, part of the reserved matters.
Being outside the defined limits of development, the proposal was in conflict with the local plan, with a key factor for refusal being the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the surrounding area.
The council clearly wished to resist unnecessary development on greenfield land that would extend the settlement of Woodville.
Self Build evidence of demand
Crucial to the allowance of the appeal was the weight the inspector gave to the number of people on NWLDC’s Self Build and Custom Build register, together with the limited focused action the council has taken to fulfil its duties around this.
NWLDC confirmed there were 54 people on its register (at April 2019), and that it had permitted four plots in the period between 31 October 2016-April 2019. The council acknowledged that it had permitted an additional 133 single plot dwellings across the district, which it argued met this demand.
However, the inspector dismissed these in the light that the council could not ensure that any of these single dwelling permissions would be developed in a manner that accords with the legal definition of self-build and custom housebuilding in the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding 2015.
“I consider it would be unreasonable to include any of the single dwelling permissions within the calculation of self-build and custom housebuilding permissions granted in the district,” he said.
This was in contrast to the S106 agreement submitted with the application, which ensured the plots in question would meet this definition.
The inspector found that only four plots listed by the council appeared to comply with the definition of self-build and custom housebuilding in the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding 2015. He found that the council had failed to permission sufficient serviced plots to meet the demand on its register for base period one, let alone subsequent periods, which comes to an end on 30 October 2019.
“Consequently, the ability of the appeal proposal to address the unmet demand for serviced plots that arose in base period 1, base period 2 and part of base period 37, in a comprehensively planned manner, is a material consideration that weighs strongly in favour of the appeal proposal.”
The inspector found that the appeal proposal, with 30 plots, would meet the majority of this demand.
Socio-economic benefits of Self Build
In another win for Custom and Self Build, the inspector cited the socio-economic benefits of the route, commenting that not only would the houses serve people using and supporting local services, facilities and businesses, but the development of each property would create opportunities for local builders and other associated small local construction businesses, boosting employment and creating training opportunities.
“On balance I consider that the economic, social and environmental benefits of the proposal significantly and demonstrably outweigh the conflict with the development plan.
“It is therefore concluded that there are material considerations in this case to justify a departure from the development plan in accordance with the statutory provisions outlined under Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
“The requirement on planning authorities to permission sufficient plots for custom and self build is clearly set out in primary legislation, and should therefore be a material consideration in all relevant planning applications. This legislation is important as England is out of step with every other developed country with regards the number of homes that we build in this way.
“NaCSBA firmly believes that custom and self build leads to more and better homes, that more people aspire to live in and communities are happier to see built. Whilst disappointed that an appeal was required, we warmly welcome the decision,” said Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of NaCSBA.
“The Right to Build Task Force welcomes this important appeal decision which provides a clear steer on how the legislation should be applied in the planning balance and will help to bring forward more serviced plots in line with demand.
“The decision will help the Custom and Self Build industry continue to grow to provide much needed additional homes to support the Government’s target of 300,000 homes per year by the mid 2020s,” said Mario Wolf, Right to Build Task Force Director.
The planning appeal number is Appeal Ref: APP/G2435/W/18/3214451 (Appeal A)