Hashi Mohamed, acting on behalf of Shropshire Council, was successful in helping to uphold the local authority’s decision to refuse a proposal for the erection of up to 125 dwellings. The inquiry which was held over 4 days in October 2015 was an appeal brought by Morris Homes (Midlands) limited against the decision of the council.
Further, the inspector similarly rejected an application by the appellant for partial costs against the local authority.
Issue 1: Policies for the supply of housing – up-to-date?
Of the three main issues explored at the inquiry, the critical one was whether local policies for the supply of housing are up-to-date and accord with national guidance, having regard to the 5 year supply of housing land. Simultaneously, there was a SAMDev process also being undertaken in the area, with the Inspector’s report being published on 30 October 2015. The Council subsequently adopted the SAMDev Plan on 17 December 2015.
In undertaking a thorough examination of the five-year requirement, and considering very many diverse factors, together with supply, he concluded at paragraph 43;
“I accept all of the Council’s housing supply figures apart from the windfall assumption which should be reduced by 335 dwellings. Consequently in my judgement there are sites in the District capable of delivering about 11,560 dwellings over the next 5 years. Given the requirement for 10,752 dwellings I consider that there is 5.38 years supply of housing land within Shropshire (emphasis added).”
Carefully considering the Appellant’s arguments, the Inspector had the following to add at paragraph 44;
“I acknowledge that the appellant draws attention to the problems associated with the development of particular sites. It is evident from my reasoning above that I believe that the Council has undertaken a thorough and robust assessment of the delivery of these sites and consequently there is no need to discount any of them. However if it proves to be the case that certain sites are not delivered because of unforeseen difficulties there is a degree of flexibility in the figures to accommodate this whilst maintaining a five-year supply of housing land.”
This is an important decision for Shropshire as it faces many challenges to refusals to grant permission for housing, on the basis that they do not have a five-year supply, and therefore the assumption in favour of sustainable development kicks in. Here the Inspector has concluded that the policies for the supply of housing are up-to-date and accord with national guidance, and should therefore be accorded full weight.
Issue 2: Effect on landscape character of the local area?
On the issue of landscape and character, the Inspector concluded that the “proposal would significantly detract from the landscape character of the local area. In particular the distinctive character and identity of the hamlet of Nobold would be lost, there would be considerable harm to the town’s rural setting, and the semi-rural nature of part of Longden Lane would be significantly eroded.”
Issue 3: Impact on highway safety
Finding in favour of the appellant, on this issue the inspector found that the “the scheme would not have an unacceptable impact on highway safety.”