Continuing the easing of rural restraint theme

A planning obligation restricting the occupation of a bungalow on the edge of a village in west Yorkshire to a person living and working locally was discharged, an inspector deciding that it no longer served a useful purpose (DCS Number 400-010-286).

The restriction required the occupation of the dwelling to be limited to people who lived and worked in the local area for an established business and in housing need in the area and that if it was marketed for sale it must be at a price no greater than 75 per cent of its open market value. The bungalow had not been marketed, the appellant estimating that there had been a loss of between 600 and 700 jobs in the local area in the previous 20 years as a result of the closure of the four main textile mills. This was not disputed by the council and it had not provided any information about employers in the local area. The inspector therefore assumed that there were indeed few employment opportunities. It also seemed unlikely, she held, that someone defined by the council as in housing need would be able to purchase the detached stone cottage, even with the reduction. She reasoned that while such restrictions were often used in areas such as national parks to ensure that there was a supply of housing that was affordable to local people in housing need, the site was outside the national park and there was no local work in the area. She concluded that the chance of finding someone who fulfilled the criteria was very small.

This is a slightly unusual case in that one wonders whether the council would not have done better to have placed a full stop after the ‘living and working locally and in housing need’ part of the restriction. Thus, the value of the property would have been brought down to whatever such a person was able to pay. Even accounting for a 25 per cent discount on open market value a desirable stone-built detached bungalow would be likely to be beyond the grasp of a person in housing need, as the inspector concluded.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 9.142

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