In this quarter’s feature, we look at the importance of demonstrating that there is bespoke need for specific types of development in particular locations. This is in the context of a December 2018 appeal decision for an extra care facility in West Malling, Kent, where the Planning Inspector allowed the proposed development on land in the Green Belt. The decision was based on evidence demonstrating a number of factors capable of attributing weight in favour of the scheme, including: five-year land supply evidence; the need for extra care in the area; and the health and wellbeing benefits generated. The site was also allocated in the emerging Local Plan and supporting evidence considered that there were very special circumstances to justify release from the Green Belt. All these factors cumulatively helped to weigh in favour of the proposal in the balancing exercise.
While it remains hard to demonstrate very special circumstances as part of the S78 appeal process, the West Malling example shows that where it can be highlighted that there are bespoke needs for a specific type of development in particular locations, sufficient weight can be established to allow development in the Green Belt.
Pegasus Group can prepare evidence to help justify need and/or benefits, including:
- Identifying five-year housing land positions / supply shortages
- Identifying bespoke need for types of development, as well as need in particular locations
- Demonstrating the economic and social benefits of schemes
In terms of the first two points, the NPPF provides the appropriate mechanisms to assess total housing needs at a strategic scale, including through the use of the standard method and the housing delivery test. The NPPF and PPG also require an assessment of needs for individual types of housing and for individual smaller areas. The PPG indicates that the need for housing suitable for older people and people with disabilities, and the need for private rented sector, self-build, affordable housing and student housing should be assessed. Similarly, the NPPF indicates that the housing need for individual Neighbourhood Plan areas should be calculated. Pegasus Group has significant expertise and experience of undertaking these bespoke assessments, which can demonstrate a clear need for a particular type of housing or for housing in a particular location.
The third point, relating to the economic and social benefits, is becoming increasingly important. Typical benefits that Pegasus Group assesses include new job creation and contribution to economic output. For proposals such as extra care schemes, impacts can also include improved quality of life and cost reductions for the NHS, for example. This analysis helps not only in making the economic case for a particular scheme, but in making a social justification as well.
For more information about Pegasus Group and its services, please contact us.