QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|HORSHAM DISTRICT COUNCIL||Appellant|
|(1) FIRST SECRETARY OF STATE|
|(2) DEVINE HOMES PLC||Respondents|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR A ALESBURY (instructed by Messrs Orchard Solicitors, London EC1A 2AY) appeared on behalf of the Second Respondent
Crown Copyright ©
"Although Coldwaltham is a defined built-up area, the Council's Settlement Sustainability Analysis published in June 2000 identifies the settlement as falling towards the bottom of the 'settlement hierarchy'. The Analysis recognises that the village has a limited range of local facilities and services with infrequent bus services and no railway station. In terms of transport sustainability, the County Council as the Highway Authority support this conclusion."
"Although the site lies within a built-up area, in terms of location, it is remote from the nearest large settlement. The Council's Settlement Sustainability Analysis confirms that there are almost no opportunities to work in the village, and there are no shops or leisure facilities in the village. There are also only limited health facilities with two branch doctors surgeries operating for 3 hours per week between them. In relation to transport, Coldwaltham is served by 3 bus services which provide a very limited service on particular days of the week only. For these reasons, the Council considers the appeal site to be relatively unsustainable. In accordance with PPG3, the Council's relatively comfortable housing land supply position means that a more cautious approach should be taken towards the development of previously developed sites such as this within built-up areas. Consequently, the Council considers that development of this site should be resisted on sustainability grounds as there are other more sustainable sites which should be developed first."
"The applicant has indicated 36 car parking spaces suggesting a ratio of two spaces per dwelling, which exceeds the higher threshold, suggested in recent Government guidance of 1.5. When developments come forward with the high number of parking spaces over and above the suggested guidelines this is usually to mitigate against the potential high use of cars and car ownership in lieu of alternative choices to travel, such as the bus or train. Therefore whilst I note the comments contained within the Design Statement which suggest that in fact the site is well served by public transport, I would in fact disagree with this statement and hence why I believe the applicant is proposing a high number of car parking spaces."
"... I am very concerned at the site's unsustainable location.
PPG 13 states that 'in remote locations well away from large urban areas, local authorities should focus most development comprising jobs, shopping, leisure and services in or near to local service centres to help ensure it is served by public transport and provides some potential for access by walking and cycling'. ..."
"As you will appreciate this site is remote from the nearest large settlement and local services such as shops, including supermarkets used to purchase weekly shopping. The site does not benefit from an adequate service of public transport; therefore it is unlikely that the site would encourage occupants/residents to travel to and from the site in anything other than the private motor car. The site therefore does not conform to the requirements of the latest PPG 13 and other relevant Government Policy ...
In summary therefore this development site is located in a rural village location served by only a selected degree of services and facilities and does not meet the current planning policy guidelines on transport sustainability as it offers very little model [modal] choice other than by private car and therefore the Highway Authority would raise a highway objection to the proposal for the reasons stated above ..."
"The Guidance Note does recognise that not all future residential development can take place within urban areas. In respect of significant residential development, villages would only be suitable locations where it can be demonstrated that additional housing will support local services such as schools or shops, which would become unviable without some modest growth. Further justification for village housing may arise where it is needed to meet local needs such as affordable housing, which will help to secure a mixed and balanced community. Whilst villages may not be ideal in sustainability terms for accommodating additional housing, the Government nonetheless remains concerned that there should be adequate housing in rural areas to meet the needs of local people."
"The report notes, however, that because of the relatively comfortable housing land supply situation in the short term there is no overriding need to grant planning permission for further windfall sites purely to meet the specified housing requirement. A more cautious approach towards the redevelopment within the built up area is therefore expounded but this cautious approach is not seen as meaning a blanket resistance to such proposals. The report is clear that such an interpretation would be unrealistic and could not be sustained. The report suggests that in the short term windfall housing land within the built up area will be judged on the following basis:
a. Greater emphasis and priority will be given to schemes in the more sustainable locations. The hierarchy of sustainable locations starts with Horsham followed by the larger villages, including Broadbridge Heath, Billingshurst, Southwater, Henfield, Pulborough, Steyning and Storrington. Other settlements, which do not have a sufficiently broad range of services to support significant development are classified as villages in terms of the application of the advice within PPG3 (paragraph 70), within such villages development should perhaps be limited to that which can meet local needs."
"Rural housing — Village Expansion and Infill
69. In terms of overall housing provision, only a limited amount of housing can be expected to be accommodated in expanded villages. Whilst occasionally a village could be the basis of a new settlement where, for example, the development accords with the policy of developing around major nodes in transport corridors, most proposals for additional housing will involve infill development or peripheral expansion.
70. Villages will only be suitable locations for accommodating significant additional housing where:
• it can be demonstrated that additional housing will support local services, such as schools or shops, which could become unviable without some modest growth. This may particularly be the case where the village has been identified as a local service centre in the development plan;
• additional houses are needed to meet local needs, such as affordable housing..."
"These submissions also contend that, in terms of sustainability, the village of Coldwaltham is not so remote as to justify refusal of planning permission for further residential development. The settlement lies only some 3km from the major community of Pulborough where a wide range of services and shops already exists. This settlement also significantly benefits from a main line railway station. Coldwaltham itself scores reasonably well when judged against general sustainability criteria. It has a primary school, public house, church and village hall. For a settlement of its size, this is a good range of services. Further, for a village of its size, its access to public bus services is quite good. This relatively good access to bus services is undoubtedly due to the fact that the village straddles the A29."
The bus services are then discussed, and paragraph 6.2 continues:
"Whilst these submissions acknowledge that Coldwaltham is not as sustainable a location as certain other settlements within the District, it is nonetheless not so remote as to justify preventing any further residential development. ... In the final analysis, it is the views of these submissions that smaller villages like Coldwaltham should not be allowed to fossilise and stagnate. Modest infill schemes within the built up area offer the opportunity of providing an increase in the variety of local housing stock, particularly through the provision of smaller units, which would potentially meet local housing need. If these villages are allowed to accept modest growth then the services they currently support are more likely to be protected/retained and even possibly increased."
"14. Coldwaltham is a relatively remote rural settlement lying some 14km north of the city of Chichester, and even further from Horsham to its north. I am apprised that buses serving Coldwaltham are few, and do not run at times suited to commuting. There is no local railway station, the nearest being at Pulborough about 3km distant. There is no industry in Coldwaltham or employment of note. The proposed development is seen by the highway authority as unsustainable in transportation terms, particularly as the proposal allows for 2 car parking spaces per dwelling as opposed to the 1.5 car parking spaces advocated in PPG3. Despite this opinion, in the Council's 'Settlement Sustainability Analysis' Coldwaltham is not in the lowest category. [In the lowest category are settlements which are not described as villages.]
15. As the Appellants point out, sustainability does not only concern the matter of transportation. It also embraces matters such as maintaining or increasing population in order to support local services and facilities, including the local school. The proposed development would most likely certainly achieve these objectives. Notwithstanding this, I share the concerns of the highway authority. However, I consider that the unsatisfactory nature of the proposal in this respect could be addressed by a reduction in car parking provision. It seems to me that an allowance of 1.5 car parking spaces per dwelling, in line with the guidance in PPG3, would largely dispel the highway authority's criticism and bring the proposal within the bounds of acceptability. This could be accomplished by the imposition of a planning condition on the grant of planning permission. Accordingly, subject to this course of action, I do not consider that there is reason to find against the proposal in relation to the issue of sustainability."
"Despite a cautious approach, but subject to a proposal meeting certain criteria, the Council accepts that such development may be acceptable.
The first criterion relates to a sustainable location. This is examined above, and I have found that this does not militate against the appeal proposal."
"Villages will only be suitable locations for accommodating significant where:
• it can be demonstrated that additional housing will support local services, such as schools or shops, which could become unviable without some modest growth."
The inspector did not consider whether the second defendant had demonstrated that the proposed additional housing on the site would support local services in Coldwaltham, or whether such services could become unviable without modest growth. So far as the school was concerned, the evidence was that it had a high reputation and a full roll of children coming from a wide catchment (see paragraph 26 of the decision letter).
"... for the reasons set out in paragraph 21(1) of the Details of Claim. It is accepted that the First Defendant was in error in paragraph 15 of his decision letter in that he failed to identify his reasoning for the conclusion that the development would most likely certainly achieve the objectives of supporting local services and facilities."
"... sustainability does not only concern the matter of transportation. It also embraces matters such as maintaining or increasing population in order to support local services and facilities, including the local school. The proposed development would most likely certainly achieve these objectives."
"... sustainability does not only concern the matter of transportation. It also embraces matters such as maintaining or increasing population in order to support local services and facilities, including the local school."
The policy underpinning the approach advocated by the second defendant was contained in paragraph 70 of PPG3. Although paragraph 70 was merely referred to in parenthesis in the second defendant's statement, it was nevertheless accurately paraphrased (see above) and it formed the basis of the claimant's sustainability analysis on which the claimant relied for the proposition that there was no need to grant planning permission for the proposed development on this site because more sustainable sites in terms of PPG3 were available. Paragraph 70 thus became potentially relevant precisely because of the basis on which the inspector decided to reject the claimant's and the County Council's case on sustainability. He accepted the argument that was being advanced by the second defendant. Having done so, it was incumbent upon him to deal properly with the paragraph 70 issue. It is unnecessary to consider whether the appeal proposal would amount to "significant additional housing" for the purposes of paragraph 70. There is clearly an issue as to whether significant additional housing means significant in terms of the overall housing provision, or significant in terms of the amount of housing in the particular village in question. Equally, it is unnecessary to consider the implications of the requirement to demonstrate that additional housing will support local services and/or whether it is necessary to produce specific evidence that particular services could become unviable without modest growth. It is unnecessary to do so because those would have been matters for the inspector to consider had he properly approached the policy on which the second defendant's sustainability argument was based. The inspector was undoubtedly correct in accepting the argument that sustainability is not simply concerned with transportation. It is also concerned with local services and facilities. That is precisely why the claimant's case on sustainability interlocked with that of the County Council.
"Local planning authorities should make sufficient land available either within or adjoining existing villages to meet the needs of local people but villages will 'only be suitable locations for accommodating significant additional housing' where it can be demonstrated that additional housing will support local services, such as schools or shops, which could become unviable without some modest growth (this may particularly be the case where the village has been identified as a local service centre in the development plan), additional housing is needed to meet local needs and the development can be designed sympathetically and laid out in keeping with the character of the village."
A footnote indicates that this is a summary of the advice which is contained in paragraphs 69 and 70 of PPG3.