One or both

In determining an appeal against the refusal of outline planning permission for 30 entry-level dwellings in a field outside the settlement boundary of a Buckinghamshire village, an inspector offered a useful insight into the meaning of ‘proportionality’ (DCS Number 400-035-950).

Paragraph 72 of the Framework, the inspector noted, seeks to support the development of entry-level exception sites, suitable for first home buyers. To comply with this policy proposals should be on land that is not allocated for housing, and demonstrate that a need for this type of housing is required. In deciding whether such schemes are appropriate outside development boundaries, he continued, the proposed sites should comprise one or more types of affordable housing; be adjacent to existing settlements; and proportionate in size to them. 

In this context the inspector recorded that proportionality is defined in the Framework via Footnote 35 which states that ‘Entry-level exception sites should not be larger than one hectare in size or exceed 5% of the size of the existing settlement.’ The appellants argued that because there is an ‘or’, if the scheme meets the size component, it does not have to meet the 5% component. This contrasted with the council’s approach of applying both components of the footnote to the proposed scheme. 

The inspector considered that the purpose of the footnote is to give guidance on Paragraph 72 of the Framework and to be flexible in its approach. Given that there is a vast amount of different villages throughout England, he reasoned, sometimes ‘proportionality’ will be dependent upon the size of the site; and sometimes it will be dependent upon the percentage increase in relation to the size of the settlement. Accordingly, it will be up to the decision-maker to make a judgement as to which is more relevant to the proposal at hand, sometimes it may be one of the specified components of Footnote 35 and sometimes it may be both. 

With regard to the scheme before him, he judged that, whilst the size of the site might be under one hectare, this was less relevant than an assessment of the percentage increase of the scheme relative to the size of the settlement. 

There is a section on rural exception affordable housing at 9.1311 of DCP Online.