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Planning applications for housing on provisional open land (“POL”) sites

posted 9 Jul 2014, 03:41 by Grimescar Greenfields   [ updated 9 Jul 2014, 03:42 ]
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Kirklees Council has been forced to withdraw its opposition to several planning applications involving provisional open land sites because of its earlier decision to withdraw its core strategy at the recommendation of the Government’s planning inspector

Posted on 13/11/2013 2:19 PM by: Kirklees Pressoffice

Earlier this year the council refused permission for a number of planning applications for housing development in the Cleckheaton and Scissett areas. These are sites that were protected in the Unitary Development Plan until it was time to undertake a review.

Having considered these matters in detail, including representations from a number of local residents, the Heavy Woollen Planning sub-committee decided to withdraw from the outstanding appeals at its meeting on November 7.

Cllr Paul Kane, Chair of the Heavy Woollen Planning sub-committee, said: “I am disappointed that we have had to withdraw our case against these proposals but it is absolutely clear that the changes in circumstances since the original decisions were made leave us with no other option.”

"As chair of the planning sub-committee I have sympathy with the objectors to these applications. However, they can be assured that the committee took into consideration their comments but the overwhelming legal advice, which came from our own legal and planning officers and external Counsel, as well as previous decisions meant that the committee had little option but to withdraw from the appeals. Giving that similar situations are arising across the country to continue would be giving the developers even more opportunity to claim costs from the Council at a time of severe austerity and loss of vital services."

The main reason for refusal had been based on the fact that because the council had submitted its Local Development Framework core strategy, it could demonstrate the availability of a five year housing land supply. This was in line with the government’s requirement set out in national planning policy. 

With this in place the council was confident that development should not proceed unless and until it had completed the process of identifying sites for development through the LDF process.

The second reason for refusal was that the core strategy was about to be examined by a planning inspector and granting permission would pre-empt the plan-led planning process which the government supports. Appeals were lodged with the Planning Inspectorate to challenge this position after the council had made these decisions.

The planning inspector, Roland Punshon, who had been appointed to examine the LDF core strategy, subsequently raised concerns about the potential soundness of the core strategy and whether the statutory “duty to co-operate” with other authorities had been met.

Mr Punshon wrote to the council following an exploratory meeting in September concluding that the duty to co-operate would not be met and recommending withdrawal of the core strategy. Failure to satisfy the duty meant that the examination process could not continue and the plan would have to be withdrawn. The council then decided to withdraw the core strategy on October 23.

Now that the core strategy has been withdrawn, the basis for calculation of the five-year land supply is the housing requirement in the regional spatial strategy (RSS) as this is the most recent figure which has been subject to public examination. On that basis the availability of a five-year housing land supply cannot be demonstrated. National policy states that in these circumstances ‘relevant policies for the supply of housing land should not be considered up-to-date’ and there is a presumption in favour of housing development.