Sixty New Homes in Open Countryside 'Sustainable', High Court Rules

Local authorities are under an obligation to set aside sufficient land to meet demand for new homes in their areas and one High Court case has underlined that those who fail to do so are at grave risk of having developments foisted upon them.

A council had refused planning consent for a development of 60 homes in an open countryside location. After the would-be developer appealed, however, that decision was reversed by a government planning inspector. He noted the council’s concession that it did not have in place a five-year supply of housing land.

In ruling that the project was sustainable, the inspector found that it would cause only very limited harm to the area’s rural character. Given the inadequacy of the council’s housing land supply, the development’s contribution towards meeting unmet demand for new homes outweighed any environmental objections. In rejecting the council’s challenge to the inspector’s decision, the Court found that the balancing exercise he performed could not be faulted.