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High Court upholds permission for 200 York homes

A planning inspector's decision to grant planning permission for a residential development with no affordable housing to prevent a delay in the contribution the development would make to the local authority's housing land supply was rational and supported by sufficient reasons, a High Court judge has ruled13 Feb 2014

A planning inspector last year granted permission on appeal (11-page / 155KB PDF) for a 200-home development at Clifton Moor in York after concluding that City of York Council could not demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing land in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework.

For viability reasons, a proposed requirement for provision of around 15% affordable housing would mean that the development would not be able to come forward immediately and would not alleviate the shortage of housing land to "any acceptable degree", the inspector had said.

He therefore granted the permission without any requirement for affordable housing but with a condition attached providing for the inclusion of affordable housing if economic circumstances improve in the future..

"Development on such land as the appeal site, which is deliverable in the short term, and which is already included in the Council's five year supply assessment, should not be unduly delayed by seeking too high a percentage of affordable housing," the inspector said.

The judge held that the inspector had given "sufficiently clear and precise" reasons for his decision, including explanation of the weight he had given to the Council's lack of housing supply, his consideration of the Council's approach to affordable housing and his consideration of the viability of the proposal.

The judge said that the inspector's conclusions that the Council's lack of housing supply was a first priority and that the development should not be delayed by too high affordable housing requirements were "planning judgements which are not open for challenge".

The judge also dismissed a claim that the inspector's decision had been irrational because he had taken into account the loss to be made by the developer upon a sale of the land. He noted the inspector had said the loss did not carry any significant weight and that he had not mentioned it when balancing the planning matters to reach his decision.