Homes ruling u-turn could be a 'game changer'

A u-turn on a decision by the Planning Inspectorate to approve a housing development could be a "game changer" for planning applications in Shropshire and across the country, it has been claimed.

Homes ruling u-turn could be a 'game changer'

Shropshire Council has been granted permission to seek a High Court judicial review into a planning inspector's granting on appeal of permission for 68 homes on land off Teal Drive in Ellesmere on the basis that, it says, the decision is legally flawed.

An officer at the authority has claimed that the decision could have a huge impact on other housing applications in the county – including a bid for 37 homes in Wem which is being debated at a planning inquiry.

Yesterday it was revealed that the Planning Inspectorate would not contest Shropshire Council's request that the appeal decision for the Teal Drive homes be quashed.

In a letter to Shropshire Council the inspectorate's legal team wrote: "In the circumstances and, in order to save the unnecessary expenditure of public funds, the planning inspectorate concede."

It is, however, believed that the developer, David Wilson Homes, and the landowners, will contest the judicial review.

The announcement was made at the start of a planning inquiry into the refusal of permission for 37 homes at the junction with Church Lane and Soulton Road in Wem.

Edward West, spokesman for Shropshire Council, told the planning inquiry at the council offices in Oswestry that the Planning Inspectorate's stance could have a bearing not only on the Wem inquiry but on future applications in Shropshire and further afield.

"This could be a national game changer," he said.

Both the Ellesmere and the Wem planning disputes revolve around whether Shropshire has enough land designated for housing for the next five years.

Helen Howie, of Berry's, representing the Wem land developer, said that Shropshire Council's insistence that it had enough land for affordable housing was untenable.

"The council used figures dating to 2013 when our figures for 2015 show that there had been a rise in the number of people needing affordable housing in Shropshire," she said. "Its argument does not take the affordable housing figures into account."

Mr West told planning inspector Jon Hockley that Shropshire's housing need was less than the council's figures for housing requirement.

"We are not saying that affordable housing is not an issue, it is an issue as it is in 99 per cent of local authorities," he said. "But the figures are improving."

Wem resident Paul Naylor told the planning inspector that he believed Wem had enough affordable housing in that area.

"Affordable housing has built on the other side of Soulton Road over a year ago and they are not selling," he said.

The inspector will give his decision at later date.

The hearing continues.

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