The plans by Tolcarne Drive Developments had been refused by Havant Borough Council in December last year. The Council cited as one of its reasons for refusal that the scheme would result in an "undesirable addition" of homes in an area of countryside, which would be contrary to policies in its Core Strategy.
The Inspector said in his report (19-page / 198KB PDF) that any strict conflict with local policies because the site was outside the defined urban area of Hayling Island was outweighed by the benefits the development would have, including the contribution it would make to the housing provision within the borough.
He noted that the Council had acknowledged that it would be necessary to develop on greenfield sites to meet its housing requirements.
The Inspector discussed the Council's five year housing land supply as required under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and noted that the Council and the developer disagreed as to whether the Council had a sufficient supply including the 20% buffer required when a persistent under-delivery is demonstrated.
However he said that, even if the Council's assessment was preferred and a five year supply plus a 20% buffer was identified, this would not preclude grant of planning permission if the proposals represented sustainable development in accordance with the NPPF.
The Council had also argued that the scheme would change the character of the area by filling in an undeveloped gap between Gable Head and Mengham, which is part of an Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB).
However, the Inspector said that Mengham and Gable Head were already "effectively physically joined" and had been so for "a lengthy period". He noted that the site was not identified as a strategic or local gap in the Council's local policies.
"I find no reason why in landscape or townscape terms it is necessary to maintain the present open character of the site providing development was not to have any serious adverse impact on the adjoining AONB," he said.
"It is my overall conclusion that the proposal would represent a sustainable form of development. The scheme would make a useful contribution to housing provision within the borough, in particular through the provision of a 30% element of affordable housing at a time when there is a demonstrable need for this," the Inspector concluded.