Thursday, 07 July 2022

Council needs more land to meet housing need, says developer

HUNDREDS of extra homes need to be built in South Oxfordshire every year to meet targets for a new housing deal, a planning appeal heard.

Gladman Homes, of Congleton, say its application for 245 homes off Peppard Road in Emmer Green, should be allowed to in order to meet demand in the district.

John Barrett, counsel for the developer, said the council needs to have land available for 1,700 homes a year to be built in order reach the target of 100,000 across Oxfordshire by 2031.

The overall figure is contained in the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, which is being worked on by all six local authorities in the county. In return, the Government says it will provide 
£215million of investment for infrastructure improvements and affordable housing.

Mr Barrett said the developer’s housing supply expert Neil Tiley, of Pegasus Group, felt the council would fail to reach the targets set in the joint spatial strategy.

Mr Barrett said: “It is beyond dispute the highest deliverable number in south Oxfordshire is 722 dwellings per year. The highest averaged over five years is 582 per annum.

“To get a five-year land supply under the joint spatial strategy you need to be hitting 1,700 homes per annum. You would have to increase the number by more than 100 per cent.

“The logic I am suggesting here is inescapable. You need to be granting permission now to have any hope whatsoever of achieving these figures.”

Tracy Smith, principal planning appeals officer for the council, said the appeal did not have jurisdiction over the district council’s housing targets from the growth deal.

She said: “I know in the growth deal they want to know certain sites are going to be delivered in the specified five-year period but I have not heard anything from the appellant that this site is going to make any meaningful contribution to that in the evidence.”

The debate was heard at the reconvened planning appeal hearing into Gladman’s application to build on three fields covering 13.5 hectares between Peppard Road and Kiln Road.

South Oxfordshire District Council refused to grant planning permission in September last year, saying the area was not earmarked for residential use in its local plan. The first part of the appeal, in front of planning inspector Nick Palmer, was heard at Henley Rugby Club in May.

It was adjourned so the developer could assess figures supplied by the district council the day before the hearing started on May 1, when the council announced its supply of housing land had increased from 4.1 years to 5.4 years.

Miss Smith said the council was now able to demonstrate a 7.6-year land supply, based on its current requirement to provide 627 per year. 

“This goes above and beyond what is required in the national planning policy framework,” she said.

Robin Green, for the council, said: “Put simply, the council says it can show a housing land supply, which is the matter of importance in this case.

“If the council is right then there is a five-year land supply, likewise if the appellant is correct then they can’t show a land supply. It is an issue for the inspector.”

The first part of the appeal covered evidence on impacts of the scheme on infrastructure, traffic and the envrionment.

Protest group the Campaign Against Gladman in Eye and Dunsden, represented by counsel John Fitzsimons, said the development would put pressure on Reading’s roads, schools and surgeries. 

It also said it would spoil the rural setting and affect views of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The district council said large developments outside established towns and villages should only be allowed to meet very specific needs like those of farmers or the environment.

The hearing was due to finish today (Friday) and a decision will be given by Mr Palmer in the next few months.

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