Proposed residential development off Uffington Road, Barnack: the verdict

Gladman Developments Ltd. appealed against Peterborough City Council’s refusal of outline planning permission for this development. The appeal was heard at Peterborough Town Hall between 24th January and 2nd February, 2017. The main issues explored were the effect of the proposed development on the setting of Barnack’s Conservation Area and the surrounding landscape; whether the City Council could demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land; and whether any harm arising from the scheme would outweigh the benefits.

Barnack Parish Council supported Peterborough City Council’s grounds for refusal of permission and in addition submitted evidence that the development would increase recreational pressure on Barnack Hills and Holes National Nature Reserve, resulting in damage to this internationally important wildlife site.

The Inspector, David Richards, issued his decision on 27th March. The appeal was allowed and outline planning permission was granted for up to 80 residential dwellings, including up to 30% affordable housing. His report (available at http://plandocs.peterborough.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/01112183.pdf) summed up as follows: “While I accept that the scheme would conflict with the [Peterborough] development plan when read as a whole, the provisions of the [National Planning Policy] Framework in respect of boosting housing land supply are engaged, and the proposal should be regarded as sustainable development.“ Among the conditions laid down are the provision of a young children’s playground and a sum of £27,750 to be used  by Natural England for measures to ameliorate the impact of the development on the Hills and Holes.

The National Planning Policy Framework states that where a planning authority cannot demonstrate a supply of land sufficient to satisfy local housing need for at least five years, then its policies are considered out-of-date and the presumption is in favour of development. Moreover, if the authority has a history of under-delivery, an additional 20% ‘buffer’ is applied to the five-year land requirement.

Peterborough City Council admitted a backlog in housing provision, but calculated that even if this were taken into account there is sufficient land available to satisfy demand for 5.1 years. Gladman’s experts disputed this and claimed a land supply sufficient for only 3.8 years. The Inspector was unconvinced by the figures put forward by Peterborough and concluded that it was currently unable robustly to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land. This meant that the City Council’s housing policies carried no weight and therefore its grounds for refusing permission for the proposed development in Barnack were swept away. Protective policies that had been cited by the City Council in its refusal of planning permission include a presumption against development in the countryside, outside village envelopes, and focussing growth on the City and larger rural settlements, rather than in smaller villages such as Barnack.

The Inspector’s decision is binding.  When detailed plans are submitted for the new housing estate, Barnack  Parish Council will work with Peterborough City Council to achieve as appropriate an outcome as possible. The silver lining is that Barnack Parish stands to benefit substantially from the Community Infrastructure Levy.  

Margaret Palmer, Vice-chair, Barnack Parish Council, 10th May 2017