Divided opinion

In determining an appeal (DCS Number 400-034-145) against the refusal of planning permission for nine houses on land identified as public open space on a site previously granted outline permission for up to 75 houses in Essex, an inspector found that the site had been artificially subdivided and as such the proposal did not make adequate provision for affordable housing. 

Local plan policy required new residential development of more than 10 units to make 30 per cent provision for affordable housing. The council contended that the affordable housing provision should be considered collectively as a development resulting in a total of 84 dwellings. The parties referred, the inspector noted, to the High Court judgment in Westminster City Council v FSS and Branlord that suggested three ways in which a conclusion might be reached on the matter. The first was whether the site was in single ownership. The council indicated that the site was within the same ownership as the wider site. The second set out whether the sites constituted a single site for planning purposes. The appeal site, the inspector observed, was part of the original red line outline planning application and permission boundary. The third was whether the proposal could be deemed to constitute a single development. The proposal, she noted, was within the outline permission site area and would be served by the same site entrance and estate roads and could readily be viewed as part of the residential development.

The appellants argued that they had purchased the site subsequent to the grant of outline planning permission and at a point when the affordable housing provision had already been agreed. As the inspector saw it, however, despite the sale of the site, the site before her remained in the same ownership as the wider site. Although now owned by the appellants, it remained part of the site that formed part of the original outline planning permission that was served by the same entrance and estate roads.

The inspector concluded that the proposal would represent an artificial sub-division of the site of the previously approved scheme and that the affordable housing provision should be considered collectively, as a development resulting in a total of 84 dwellings. As such, the proposal did not make adequate provision for affordable housing for which there was a clear need within the district. This brought the proposal into conflict with local plan policy and the Framework.

Section 7.3333 of DCP Online concerns threshold manipulation in respect of affordable housing provision.