The stamp of approval
Councils are expected to allow development wherever possible
Solihull Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a £20 million development of up to 125 homes in Marston Green, west midlands, has been overturned on appeal.
The appeal by developer Persimmon Homes was brought on several grounds, including that planning permission should be granted given that Solihull Council could not demonstrate an up-to-date five-year supply of deliverable housing.
The inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of communities secretary Eric Pickles upheld this line, pointing out that the government’s ministerial statement ‘Planning for growth’ expects local planning authorities to allow development and growth wherever possible.
The inspector, Jessica Graham, determined that there was ‘a significant shortfall in deliverable housing land supply’, obliging the council to consider planning applications favourably if a proposal centred on a site that was suitable for housing, the development made effective and efficient use of the land, and achieved a good mix of housing.
Solihull Council had raised concerns about the quality of the affordable houses in the scheme: the likely noise disturbance from the nearby west coast mainline railway and the limited views from those houses.
However, Ms Graham found that since many of the affordable homes would be dispersed around the site and not grouped in less desirable spots, such impact would be minimal. She also pointed out that the designs of the homes in no way made clear which were affordable dwellings and which were available on the open market.
The inspector did feel that there was a need for a new GP surgery in Marston Green to cope with the increased demand. In addition, there was local concern about the impact of the new development on traffic, parking and public transport services. However, the inspector was satisfied that a transport assessment had demonstrated that there was capacity in the road network. Her view was substantiated by the Highway Authority.
Ms Graham allowed the appeal and granted planning permission for the construction of the development by Persimmon Homes, which she concluded would ‘accord with the character or appearance of the surrounding area and preserve the attractive qualities of its environment’.
The proposed development is for up to 125 homes - including 50 affordable homes of which 33 are for rent and 17 are for shared ownership - on land known as Moat House Farm at Elmdon Road in Marston Green, with associated open space and infrastructure. The developer will financially contribute towards education facilities and play space.
Jeremy Cahill, QC, head of the planning group, No5 Chambers. email@example.com