An additional floor to accommodate two flats on a building in mixed residential and retail use in north London (DCS Number 400-009-589) was rejected due to the lack of a contribution towards affordable housing. The application was made in September 2014 and refused in February 2015.
Contrary to the view of the council, the inspector saw nothing untoward in the appellant’s approach in devising an extension of wholly contrasting design to the host property. But….
Core strategy policy required that all sites capable of delivering 10 or more units should provide affordable homes on-site and schemes below this threshold would be required to provide a financial contribution towards affordable housing provision elsewhere in the borough. However, in the light of the Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) of November 2014 and the amendments made to the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) in respect of affordable housing requirements on sites of 10 units or less, the council did not require the financial contribution to be paid. Nevertheless, in its appeal statement the council referred to the successful legal challenge made by West Berkshire and Reading councils to the WMS and revised provisions of the PPG in July 2015 (R on the application of West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) . Accordingly, the council’s position was that if the inspector were minded to allow the appeal it would expect the decision to be accompanied by an undertaking to secure a financial contribution towards the provision of affordable housing elsewhere in the borough, in accordance with core strategy policy. The appellant, on the other hand, argued that the application had not been refused for this reason, and the original application was not determined in a timely manner, thus depriving the appellant of the short-lived stay on s106 contributions for small-scale developments.
In dismissing the appeal in November 2015 the inspector explained that he was required to make his determination in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicated otherwise, and the provisions of the core strategy policy were clear and unambiguous. Whilst he understood the appellant’s position, he pointed out that the option to appeal on the grounds of non-determination had not been exercised.
That can’t have made the appellant feel any better.
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 7.3