QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Leeds Combined Court
1 Oxford Row
B e f o r e :
|HARROGATE BOROUGH COUNCIL||Claimant|
|SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT||Defendant|
|SWINTON PARK ESTATE||Interested Party|
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Mr Giles Cannock (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the Defendant
The Interested Party did not appear and was not represented
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Mr Justice Supperstone:
"The proposal does not make provision for the provision of at least one affordable home for local people as such the proposal is contrary to the requirements of Policy SG3 of the Core Strategy 2009."
"Under policy SG3 of the Harrogate Local Development Framework Core Strategy (CS) development in the countryside is to be strictly controlled, but specified forms of development are to be encouraged there, one of which is affordable homes for local people. Such provision of affordable housing is to be in accordance with CS policies HLP3 and HLP4. The former relates to rural exception sites and is not relevant here. The latter states new build affordable housing may be permitted as part of schemes to convert existing rural buildings. A further exception in policy SG3 to the generally restrictive approach to development in the countryside is Rural building conversions where the building makes a positive contribution to the landscape character of the countryside preferably for economic development uses or affordable homes for local people rather than market housing. In this policy context the determining issue in the appeal is whether the proposed conversion should provide for affordable housing, bearing in mind its location and the need for such housing in the District."
"6. All these matters weigh in favour of seeking an element of affordable housing, but I believe the Council are going too far in 'requiring' (in the words of both the decision and the officers' report) such provision in this case under CS Policy SG3. The wording of the Policy provides no support for that stance; rather, it talks of affordable housing as something that will be encouraged and that would be preferable to market housing. Similarly, Policy HLP4 states that affordable housing may be provided as part of rural conversions.
7. Nor have the Council provided any evidence, for example in the shape of supplementary guidance, of how the general terms of Policy SG3 might translate into a specific figure for the amount of housing that might be sought. The officer's report simply says the Council would require that at least one of the dwellings is an affordable unit with no apparent investigation or indication of criteria that might be brought to bear. The same applies to the criticism that the appellant has provided no financial evidence to demonstrate that providing one affordable dwelling would not be economically viable; equally the Council have provided no guidance on how they would judge such viability.
9. The Council say that they have discussed with the appellant ways in which affordable housing might be provided on the Swinton Park Estate in conjunction with a registered housing provider. This appears to me to be an appropriate approach under CS Policy SG3 and the fact that it has apparently not yet borne fruit does not in itself justify refusal of permission in this case. In summary, my reading of CS Policy SG3 is that its approach to provision of affordable housing is enabling rather than prescriptive. Accordingly, I conclude on the main issue that, although there was a significant demand for affordable housing in both the District and the locality, and the appeal property is not an unsuitable location for it, provision in this case is not warranted by policy."
"Outside the development and infill limits of the settlements listed in Policy SG2 of this Core Strategy, land will be classified as countryside and there will be strict control over new development in accordance with national and regional planning policy protecting the countryside and Green Belt. In order to promote a sustainable pattern of rural development in those areas of the countryside outside Green Belt the following forms of development will be encouraged:
1. Affordable homes for local people in accordance with Policies HLP3 and HLP4 of this Core Strategy;
2. Rural building conversions where the building makes a positive contribution to the landscape character of the countryside preferably for economic development uses or affordable homes for local people rather than for market housingů"
"The Government's policy is to support the re-use of appropriately located and suitably constructed existing buildings in the countryside where this would meet sustainable development objectives. Re-use for economic development purposes will usually be preferable, but residential conversions may be more appropriate in some locations, and for some types of building. Planning authorities should therefore set out in Local Development Documents their policy criteria for permitting the conversion and re-use of buildings in the countryside for economic, residential and any other purposes, including mixed uses.
These criteria should take account of... [and then it is the second bullet point on which MráHunter places reliance]
Ľ specific local economic and social needs and opportunities."
"The Government's policy is to support the re-use of appropriately located and suitably constructed existing buildings in the countryside where this would meet sustainable development objectives. PPS7 states that the re-use of such buildings for economic development purposes will usually be preferable, but residential conversions may be more appropriate in some locations, and for some types of buildings.
"Many rural building conversions have over the past 10 years been permitted for residential development and through more recent use of the Harrogate District Local Plan (Selective Alteration) Saved Policy H5, these residential conversions have started to assist the Council in meeting the District's affordable housing need. There has been general support for the re-use of rural buildings during the community involvement on this Core Strategy. The re-use of rural buildings that contribute to the character of the countryside and assist in the provision of affordable housing is considered to meet sustainable development objectives."
"ůmy reading of CS policy SG3 is that its approach to provision of affordable housing is enabling rather than prescriptive. Accordingly, I conclude on the main issue that, although there is a significant demand for affordable housing in both the district and locality, and the appeal site is not a unsuitable location for it, provision in this case is not warranted by policy."
The Inspector sets out his reasons clearly in paragraphá7, in particular, of the decision.
MR CANNOCK: My Lord, can I in those circumstances ask that the claimant pays the defendant's costs.
MR JUSTICE SUPPERSTONE: Yes, I have a statement of costs, have I not?
MR CANNOCK: Yes, my Lord, and you will be pleased that the figure is agreed at ú6,924.
MR JUSTICE SUPPERSTONE: ú6,924. MráHunter, principle, figure?
MR HUNTER: Both agreed, my Lord.
MR JUSTICE SUPPERSTONE: Thank you very much. I will make an order for costs in those terms. Can I, before you say anything else, MráHunter, thank you both very much for your assistance and for your very clear submissions.
MR HUNTER: Thank you in particular for dealing with it when the bundles were perhaps not as helpful as they might have been.
MR JUSTICE SUPPERSTONE: Not at all.
MR HUNTER: My Lord, I do have a further application to make and it is for leave to appeal. I appreciate that your Lordship has dealt with the point thoroughly and no doubt that is what my learned friend, Mr Cannock, will say in reply to these submissions. But, my Lord, in my submission, for the reasons I have already gone over and I will not repeat again, there is at least a realistic prospect that a court above may take a different view. My Lord, I do not think I can elaborate that point any further. Unless I can assist you further?
MR JUSTICE SUPPERSTONE: Thank you very much. Do you have anything to say?
MR CANNOCK: Not really, my Lord. It is a pretty simple point. Your Lordship has given very clear reasons. Respectfully, I would agree. I cannot conceive that an appeal court would come to a different conclusion.
MR JUSTICE SUPPERSTONE: MráHunter, I think you will have to renew the application elsewhere.
MR HUNTER: Thank you, my Lord.
MR JUSTICE SUPPERSTONE: Thank you very much.