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Gladman wins appeal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Glennie-Smith   
Wednesday, 06 April 2016 11:45

Gladman Developments has succeeded in its appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against Herefordshire Council's refusal of outline planning permission to build 321 houses south of the bypass.  This is in addition to the 600 planned for north of the viaduct, plus others that would bring the total to nearly 1200.

This has come about mainly because Ledbury's 'Neighbourhood Plan' is taking far too long to materialise, while consultants (Foxley Tagg) employed by the town council to prepare it have raked up nearly £70k in fees but have not delivered the goods.  The exhibition on 1st and 2nd April was too late and poorly advertised.

In the absence of a Neighbourhood Plan, the Planning Inspectorate can only go back to national guidelines, which presume in favour of the developer.  Thank you, David and George, for moving the goalposts in this direction.

There will be little S.106 comeback to fund infrastructure, and no guarantee it will be spent in Ledbury.   It has also set a precedent for developers with their avaricious eyes on neighbouring fields and other farmers out to make a fast buck.  Such sites can now, of course, be 'surveyed' from the comfort of their offices by using Google Maps.

There is no guarantee either that any 'affordable' or social housing will be included.  So there's no increased chance for a young local person to buy a house here.

Ledbury will continue to bear the result of this for decades to come, way after the fat cats have creamed off these assets and hidden them in the Virgin Islands.  All Ledbury will get is a roundabout at the Martins Way junction with the bypass, a speed limit (which will probably be ignored) and a pelican crossing by this roundabout.  And of course more cars - many, many more: access to this (and the viaduct site) is cycle- and pedestrian-hostile.

Of course, Herefordshire Council (and ultimately council tax payers) will have to bear the costs of the appeal.

The appeal was heard early February 2016 in Hereford - Gladman succeeded in getting the hearing venue away from Ledbury because it was appealing against the planning authority, namely Herefordshire Council, which is based in Hereford.  This resulted in only a handful of Ledbury residents being able to attend, obviously because distance precluded those at work just nipping out during their lunch break to show a presence - quite apart from travelling time and cost.  The council came up with a lame excuse that 'officials might have to leave the meeting to consult the document archive to answer any questions posed'.  Strange though it may seem, many venues in Ledbury have broadband, so what was the problem?

Gladman's 11 representatives used this to make a point of limited local interest to back their argument.  Contrast this with the site meeting, attended by 35 local people who walked a total of 2 miles on and near the site.  This was held after the hearing had closed (why not before, so the inspector could have seen the lie of the land before hearing representations from Gladman?)

Quoting from the Planning Inspector's reasons:
"There is reference in the evidence before me to an emerging Neighbourhood Plan for Ledbury. However, as set out in SoCG1, that Plan is at an early stage of preparation with no timetable currently for its production, the Working Group having been recently disbanded. In the absence of any draft policies, the emerging Neighbourhood Plan cannot be afforded any material weight in my determination of this appeal.

"Paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework) sets out that relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites.

"At the time that the planning application was determined, the Council accepted that it could not demonstrate a five year supply of housing land. Since then, however, the Core Strategy has been adopted. On the evidence available to me at the time of the Examination, the Core Strategy Inspector concluded that, on the basis of a minimum requirement of 16,500 homes over the Plan period, the Council could demonstrate a five-and-a-quarter years supply, which figure I consider to be marginal but realistic. The Core Strategy sets out a stepped approach to delivery of that requirement.

"The Council’s January 2016 housing land supply update, sets out the position as of 1 April 2015, including completions. It suggests that whilst there has been a decline in supply from the Examination figure, the Council could demonstrate a five years supply. That was the Council’s position going in to the Inquiry. However, in a further update submitted during the Inquiry, following the round table discussion on housing land supply, the Council confirmed that its supply was five years.

"It seems to me, that were delivery to be jeopardised on any of the sites relied on by the Council it could not, on its own evidence, demonstrate a five year supply. Indeed, the appellant advanced a much lower figure of 3 years 5 months.

"I have found a shortfall in the Council’s five year housing land supply that needs addressing now, which conclusion derives in part from what appears, on the evidence, to be an ongoing slippage in delivery on some of the SUEs. The appeal site is identified in both the 2011 SHLAA and the 2012 Second Review as a greenfield site that is suitable for development, achievable and available with a potential capacity for 300 dwellings. Indeed, it was confirmed at the Inquiry that the site is available for development now, with no physical or infrastructure constraints.  [Ed: Eh?? What about schools, sewage, doctors etc.]

"In the absence of a five year supply, and pursuant to paragraph 49 of the Framework, policies SS2, SS3, LB1 are not to be considered as up-to-date for the purposes of this appeal. In these circumstances, paragraph 14 of the Framework advises that permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole.

"The starting point for my decision is the development plan. In as much as the appeal site is not located within the strategic directions for growth identified for Ledbury, as set out by policies SS2, SS3 and LB1, there would be conflict with the development plan. However, the current housing land supply situation in the District means that those policies are not to be considered as up-to-date. I am mindful, in this regard that, among other things, policy SS3 prioritises increasing housing supply where supply falls below the targets set out in the housing trajectory. Whilst the harm to character and appearance that I have identified would also result in conflict with Core Strategy policies SS6, LD1 and LD3, that harm is localised and has to be seen in the context of the need to increase supply at this time. All in all, I am satisfied that the development proposed would not result in material conflict with the vision and spatial strategy for the District when the development plan is considered as a whole. Even had I found to the contrary, I have concluded above that the scheme comprises sustainable development and thus benefits from the presumption of such as set out in the Framework in any event. Therefore, for the reasons set out above, the evidence in this case leads me to conclude, on balance, that the appeal should succeed."

So there you have it.  Glad Man indeed!

A third supermarket is definitely going to happen.  So let's go with Aldi (now seen as the lesser evil) and seal the fate of that plot of land near the bypass before another mega Sainsbury proposal can come along.

Last Updated on Friday, 08 April 2016 15:43

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