29 July 2014, Two recent appeal decisions have been issued by the Planning Inspectorate, following separate public inquiries held over consecutive days, granting approval for 150 homes on the basis of an identified housing shortfall in South Cambridgeshire.
The Inspector determined that the Council’s supply of housing land was 3.9 years, which was calculated using the Sedgefield approach and applying a 20% buffer.
The Inspector concluded that because policies for the supply of housing in South Cambridgeshire’s Development Plan are out-of date and that the Council cannot demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing land, the appeals should be allowed and planning permission granted.
South Cambridgeshire District Council is currently reviewing its Development Plan, having submitted its draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in March 2014. The appointed Inspector has already confirmed that Examination Hearings are unlikely to commence before mid October 2014, given the need to robustly consider the overlapping strategic issues with Cambridge City Council (who are at the same stage in the Development Plan review process), and the significant number of objections submitted in response to the draft Local Plan.
South Cambridgeshire District Council is ambitiously targeting Spring 2015 for adoption of its Plan. However, even if this timetable were to be achieved, in the short term, the Council will remain vulnerable to further planning applications challenging the Council’s 5-year land supply position.
Richard Seamark, Partner, commented “We are actively working with a number of clients to bring forward sites for new housing in South Cambridgeshire, including those that are being actively promoted through the Local Plan process. There has long been a sense that South Cambridgeshire has struggled with housing supply, largely as a result of its Development Plan commitment to major new towns and urban extensions, many of which have been delayed either through lack of infrastructure delivery and/ or the recent economic uncertainty. The recent Inspector’s appeal decisions have brought this issue into clearer focus and there is now a real opportunity, in the short term, for landowners and developers to bring forward sites capable of delivering new housing in sustainable locations.”