Stafford Borough Council had refused the outline plans in February last year as the proposed development was located outside the Residential Development Boundary (RDB) identified in a saved policy of the Council's Local Plan. The policy specified that residential development outside the RDB would not be acceptable.
The inspector noted in her decision notice (11-page / 142KB PDF) that the Council had allowed a housing redevelopment of another industrial site outside the RDB. However, she emphasised the Council's lack of a five year housing land supply in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as a main reason for granting permission.
The inspector said that, although the Council had "performed well" and would have a five year housing land supply against housing targets in the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for West Midlands, the RSS was not based on up to date evidence.
She said that revised RSS figures which were examined in 2009 provided the most recent objectively assessed figures, despite the fact that the revised RSS will never be adopted. Against these figures, the Council could not demonstrate a five year housing land supply and had a "persistent under delivery" of housing under paragraph 47 of the NPPF.
The inspector concluded that the Council's lack of a five year housing supply, along with the Government's wish to significantly boost the supply of housing, carried "substantial" weight in favour of allowing the appeal.
The inspector also noted that it could not be justified to oppose the development on prematurity grounds as it would delay determining the future use of land. She said that there was "no early prospect of submission for examination" of the Council's forthcoming Local Plan, partly because of outstanding objections to one of the proposed policies in the plan.