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Social Housing Speed Read – Greg Clark’s decision

This week we're looking at Greg Clark's recent decision to overturn North West Leicestershire District Council's rejection of a 605 home development.

The development and Greg Clark’s decision

The application was for a development of 605 homes plus a 60 unit extra care centre, a primary school, health centre, community hall and neighbourhood shop.

The original planning application was rejected citing 4 grounds, but by the time of the appeal 3 of these had fallen away, leaving only the 4th ground, which related to concerns about the commitment to affordable housing after the application had cited that the development would provide a minimum of 10% affordable homes.

By the time of the inquiry the developers had agreed to provide 30% affordable homes subject to an independent viability assessment.

Can a planning authority rely on having identified a 5 year supply of suitable sites?

No. Of note was the fact that the land proposed for the development was not land identified in the local planning authority’s 5 year plan.

The Inspector proposed, and the Secretary of State subsequently confirmed, that while the National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to identify and annually update a supply of deliverable sites to provide 5 years of housing, local authorities must also plan for housing supply beyond that 5 year period and identify sites for the longer term.

An emphasis on boosting the supply of affordable housing

Equally of note was the fact that there was no up to date local plan in existence. The decision noted that granting the planning permission would be contrary to an out of date policy in a previous plan, and that there was an emerging, but as yet un-adopted plan, but that neither of these factors should be given significant weight.

In the absence of a current adopted local plan, the proposal should be assessed with reference to the National Planning Policy Framework which places great weight on boosting significantly the supply of market and affordable housing.

The inspector’s report stated that where local plans are out of date, planning permission should be granted unless adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The inspector reports that decision makers at every level should try to approve applications for sustainable development where possible.

Why is the decision significant for Registered Providers?

The decision clearly emphasised the significance of the development of up to 182 affordable homes (being 30%) and the need to boost the supply of housing.

Government policy here has acted to force the developers’ hands into committing to a larger proportion of affordable homes, increasing from 10% to 30%, in order to get approval for the overall development.

The emphasis on affordable housing should help any registered providers currently assessing development plans and those making applications for planning permission. To access the full text of the planning decision, which includes the inspector’s report please click here.

Ward Hadaway’s Planning Department can provide advice and assistance throughout the planning process if you are looking at promoting or participating in a new build scheme or regeneration of an area.

Our planning team includes chartered town planners to assist in the original planning application and experienced lawyers should you need to challenge a decision or support an application through the drafting and negotiation of section 106 obligations.

If you have any questions related to planning, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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