West Berkshire refuse permission for major strategic site

West Berkshire Council have refused planning permission for a key strategic site allocated by their adopted Core Strategy.

The 2,000 home Sandleford development was refused due to 'lack of information and detail'. Sandleford is a major housing allocation within the Core Strategy for up to 2,000 dwellings, as well as associated infrastructure; a new primary school; retail facilities; business employment; and a network of green infrastructure.

The outline planning application, reference 15/02300/OUTMAJ, was refused for a total of 21 reasons on 8 November 2017.  A further application for 321 dwellings on part of the site was also refused.  An additional application for 1,000 dwellings on part of the allocated site is due to be considered by the planning committee on 18 December 2017.

West Berkshire Council has had issues with their 5-year housing land supply in recent times, with a number of planning application appeals successfully demonstrating a lack of supply.  Earlier this year, two appeals were recovered by the Secretary of State who found, contrary to the appointed planning Inspector, that the council did have a 5-year land supply, crucially due to the fact that they were not considered to be “persistent under suppliers” and thus only required a 5% buffer on their supply.

In April this year, the council produced its 5-year housing land supply statement.  It shows a supply of 5.3 years when assessed to 2022 against its OAN.  Importantly, the 2,000 dwellings allocated at Sandleford were not included in the supply, so it is not clear what impact this refusal will have on the overall land supply as it currently stands.

However, the refusal must bring in to doubt the position of the Core Strategy which is already based on out of date housing numbers.  The question must be, how long will it be before West Berkshire are again found to be without a 5-year housing land supply?

A link to the West Berkshire press release is provided here