Inspector dismisses developer’s pandemic claim in appeal against Tiptree homes refusal

A developer has failed in its appeal against Colchester Borough Council’s refusal of plans for 255 new homes in Tiptree.
Bloor Homes had argued that the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic meant the council could not demonstrate it had a five-year housing land supply, claiming important sites were now “undeliverable”.
However, the planning inspector examined the sites against the National Planning Policy Framework’s “overarching test for deliverability, which is that sites should be available, suitable and achievable with a realistic prospect of housing being delivered within five years”.
He found that the council could in fact demonstrate 5.15 years’ worth of deliverable housing land.
“In Colchester, it is clear from the evidence before me that, despite the difficulties, continued progress has been made on a number of the major housing sites, and also on the emerging draft Local Plan and the [draft Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan],” the inspector concluded.
“As things stand, therefore, the evidence available does not justify making any allowance or adjustment to the five-year supply on account of the effects on the planning process.”
Importantly, he added that the five-year supply was “concerned only with the number of deliverable sites, and that figure is entirely separate from the number of houses actually built and occupied”.
Provisions in the NPPF “that trigger the tilted balance, and with it the presumption in favour of sustainable development, relate only to the number of sites and their deliverability. Forecasts of the pandemic’s effects on actual housing delivery are not directly relevant to this exercise,” said the inspector in dismissing the appeal.
Further, he concluded that the proposed development would conflict with local planning policy “due to its location in the countryside, and also due to its adverse impact on the local landscape and townscape in causing coalescence between Tiptree and Tiptree Heath”.