Planning for major sustainable urban extension approved by the Secretary of State

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Planning specialists support HCA on successful large-scale planning appeal in Northampton

Planning specialists at Walker Morris have advised the Homes and Communities Agency on a successful planning appeal for a large-scale sustainable urban extension near Hardingstone, Northampton.  Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has granted outline planning permission for the proposals.

Once completed, the development will comprise 1,000 houses; a local centre with up to 1,320m2 of retail space, professional and financial services, and restaurants / cafes; a public house; two-form entry primary school; space for community use which may include a medical centre, pharmacy and community centre; and associated infrastructure improvements. The Firm’s involvement included providing specialist strategic planning advice and legal support throughout the nine-day public inquiry.

The Homes and Communities Agency, as applicant for the urban extension, had appealed against Northampton Borough Council’s refusal of its outline plans for the scheme in May 2014.  In December 2014, the appeal was then recovered for decision by the Secretary of State.  This was due to it involving proposals for residential development of over 150 units, being on a site of over 5 hectares, and thus its likely significant impact on Government planning and housing objectives.

Following a public inquiry, the Secretary of State has agreed with the planning inspector’s recommendation that permission be granted.

The Inspector’s Report and Secretary of State’s decision letter grappled with several significant issues, including the effect of the proposed development on the area’s character and appearance; likely impacts on the operation of a nearby industrial estate; and analysis of highway impacts and effect on traffic movement on the highway network, particularly in the context of national guidance and differing modelling approaches.  Other elements also considered in the decision, having been raised at inquiry, included housing land supply, affordable housing, and provision of appropriate facilities and infrastructure.

The decision noted that urban extension represents sustainable development, from both an economic and social, as well as an environmental perspective.  With there being insufficient supply of housing land in the area going forward, the decision states that the “contribution of the appeal site to supply represents a considerable social benefit, as does the provision of much-needed affordable housing”.  Further “the provision of jobs and apprenticeships through a construction training scheme are important economic benefits” and the improvement measures proposed would aid access by public transport.

Rob Moore, director at Walker Morris said;

“This is an excellent outcome. The Secretary of State’s decision lends significant support to the Government’s growth agenda for sustainable development. As well as providing much needed market and affordable housing, the decision reflects the efforts taken to produce a sensitive and appropriate scheme that will deliver a substantial range of planning benefits and improvements to infrastructure.”

Rob Moore led the Walker Morris Planning Team advising the Homes and Communities Agency. Negotiations on and conclusion of planning obligations were undertaken by Chris Slater.

The Walker Morris Planning Team was recently ranked in Tier 1 by the independent guides to the legal profession, Legal 500 and also Chambers & Partners.

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