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20 March 2013 | Posted by Andy Thompson
Acting on behalf of a local developer client, Beacon Planning has successfully appealed Broadland District Council's decision against a mixed-use development in the village of Blofield, to the east of Norwich in what the consultancy is describing as an important test of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on the delivery of housing.

The Planning Inspectorate issued its judgment today (19 March) which overturns Broadland District Council's decision last April (2012) to refuse permission for an application for 175 new homes and 4,000 sq metres of employment space on a 10 hectare site to the north of the A47 road in the village.

As well as representing its client at the appeal's public inquiry in December 2012, Beacon Planning has had involvement with the scheme from the earliest stages of the project.

In considering the appeal, the Planning Inspectorate disagreed with Broadland District Council's reasons for refusal and concluded that the character and the scale of the mixed use residential and commercial elements were not inappropriate and were sustainable.

The key issue in the appeal, according to Beacon Planning, was the supply of housing land and, to this end, the provisions of the NPPF were fundamental to the decision.

The Inspector agreed with Beacon Planning's point that the Broadland district has a serious housing land shortfall and concluded that this provided significant support for the appeal proposals.

In this context and in respect of housing supply, the District Council's policies could not be considered up-to-date and the presumption in favour of sustainable development - a cornerstone of the NPPF - held sway.

The importance of the NPPF is something which Lee Melin, a director of Beacon Planning who led the appeal, is keen to emphasise in this judgement.

He comments: "The application was prepared and considered in a timescale which has seen fundamental changes to the planning policy landscape.

"The original application was determined less than a month after publication of the NPPF and the Inspectorate's decision follows almost a year later.

"In this timescale, the new framework policy has brought about a sea-change in the consideration of planning applications for housing development.

"The primacy of the development plan remains - but only where a local planning authority can demonstrate fulfilment of its obligation to provide for new homes.

"We feel that this appeal win has tested the voracity of the NPPF and the Government's desire not to duck the difficult decisions that need to be made if adequate housing is to be delivered. Together with our client, we felt we had made a rigorous case to deliver much needed housing and employment."