Hart Council is a sitting duck after the planning inspector decided to grant planning permission for 423 new houses at Grove Farm (Netherhouse Copse). The inspector demolished the main pillars of the council’s argument against the development (See below):
- The inspector found that the main policies it used to defend the appeal were out of date
- Hart’s claim to have a five-year land supply was essentially ruled to be irrelevant
The impact of this is that it opens the way for developers to make even more planning applications. It will also embolden developers to appeal where the council doesn’t take decisions on time or turns down planning applications.
This makes it imperative that the Local Plan and associated policies are put in place ASAP. Sadly, the precedent is not good because Hart has missed every deadline it has set itself over the past few years. It is now four months since the consultation into the draft Local Plan. The consultee comments haven’t even been published. Of course, we have no idea how the Council will respond to the comments. Nor do we have any idea how they will respond to Government consultation that will reduce our housing target by around 4,000 houses.
Detailed findings from the Inspector that make Hart Council a sitting duck
The decision rested on a number criteria. The inspector found it to be very significant that most of the policies that the council relied upon for its defence were out of date:
Second, the inspector didn’t determine one way or the other whether the council has a five year land supply. Essentially, the five year land supply is irrelevant.