Too late

A council in north Wales has been ordered to pay costs to appellants after it failed to persuade an inspector that the density and mix of a housing development could be controlled at approval of reserved matters stage (DCS Number 200-005-622).

Outline planning permission had been granted for the ‘development of 1.1 hectares of land for residential purposes’ with no reference being made to the number of dwellings. The appeal related to the council’s refusal to grant approval of details for the layout, scale, appearance, and landscaping of 14 proposed dwellings. The first refusal reason related to the density of development which the council argued was a fundamental element of the layout of the scheme, whilst the second reason for refusal related to the balance and mix of dwellings in terms of size, the council arguing that the size of the dwellings was appropriately dealt with when assessing scale.

The inspector considered that the starting point in assessing the issue was the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Wales) Order 2012, which provides a definition of the scope of each of the reserved matters. Layout is defined as ‘the way in which buildings, routes and open spaces within the development are provided, situated and orientated in relation to each other and to buildings and spaces outside the development’, and scale as ‘the height, width and length of each building proposed within the development in relation to its surroundings’.

The council argued that the outline application only indicated an indicative number of dwellings, and that it didn’t want to be overly prescriptive in this regard at the outline stage by specifying a number. The inspector ruled, however, bearing in mind case law cited by the appellants, that had the council wished to control density or housing mix further details should have been sought at the time of granting outline planning permission, or appropriately worded conditions should have been applied. He held that there was no scope for him to reconsider these matters which should have been dealt with at the outline stage and he allowed the appeal.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 5.132

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