Green light for 49 new homes in Leicestershire following successful planning appeal

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Permission has been granted for the construction of 49 market and affordable homes near Thornton Reservoir, Leicestershire

The proposal for plans to develop a three hectare site off Hawthorn Drive first emerged in 2014 – with the third and latest application being turned down by Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council in July 2021.

Marrons Planning co-ordinated the planning appeal, including the day to day management, on behalf of developer Barwood Homes and landowner J H Hallam & Son Limited, and the development was allowed in May 2022.

Andrew Gore, partner at Marrons Planning, provided planning evidence at the public inquiry, which clearly demonstrated a housing land supply shortfall; that the housing and settlement boundary policies were substantively out-of-date; and that there was an acute affordable housing shortfall in the borough; as well as the accessible, sustainable nature of the site.

He said: “We are delighted that permission for this scheme has now been granted. We worked positively with council officers throughout the application process – ultimately delivering a recommendation of approval at the planning committee, which was subsequently overturned by members.

“The scheme will provide a range of house types and sizes, creating a sustainable, inclusive and mixed community, while also increasing footfall and revenue for the village’s shops. The delivery of 20 affordable dwellings – 40% of the development’s total – will make an important contribution to meeting the council’s affordable housing need.

“A large area of public open space will also be constructed, alongside the improved management of a woodland belt – delivering ecological enhancements with biodiversity benefits.”

The development will produce 19 three-bedroom and 10 four-bedroom houses to be sold on the market, and 20 affordable homes, including four one-bedroom homes, eight two-bedroom houses, and eight three-bedroom properties.

The site has been the subject of a number of previous planning applications – the first of which was submitted in December 2014. Despite being recommended for approval by officers, it was refused at planning committee in March 2015. A revised planning application was submitted in April 2016 and was again refused in June 2016. The latest application was submitted in June 2020.

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Andrew has in excess of 16 years’ planning experience

Andrew works primarily with house-builders, land promoters and landowners across the country in securing consent for medium to large-scale residential and commercial development, including a number of SUEs and new settlements.

Planning Appeals

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Biodiversity Net Gain – opportunities for landowners, obligations for developers

With the ink still wet on some of the policies and agreements to come out of COP26, sustainable development is high on the political agenda.

Improving biodiversity is a major issue for landowners, developers and planning authorities and biodiversity net gain is a method utilised to improve a sites value – the higher the biodiversity net gain, the potentially higher the value, and who doesn’t want that

What is meant by biodiversity?

The biodiversity of an area is the variety of plant and animal life in a particular habitat. A high level of biodiversity is considered to be desirable and important.

What is biodiversity net gain and what does this mean for Developers?

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) sits within the Environment Act 2021 which received Royal Assent in November 2021. The act requires, amongst other things, that all development schemes in England must deliver a mandatory minimum 10% biodiversity net gain which must be maintained for a period of at least 30 years. This is now a legal requirement.

Biodiversity Net Gain follows a mitigation hierarchy – four steps designed to result in a win- win situation. Wins for the environment and wins for the developer.

  1. Avoidance – avoiding any impact completely such as changing the location of development

  2. Minimisation – reducing the time, extent, impact, intensity of the development

  3. Onsite restoration – measures taken to restore the habitat involved

  4. Offset - measures taken to compensate for the adverse impacts after the previous three have been explored in full

What does this mean for landowners?

By 2028 the farm subsidy, known as the Basic Payment Scheme will be eradicated and in its place (to a degree) the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), set under the Agriculture Act 2020, will be fully integrated. The ELMS is based on the philosophy of “public money for public goods”, and biodiversity (along with all natural capital considerations) will play a huge role within the various schemes planned.

What we don’t know at this stage is how the private sector contracts between developers and landowners will sit with the ELMS and whether there will be the ability to benefit from both. (‘Stacking’ is the issue of whether the same land can ‘stack’ one payment upon another).

It would appear that there is opportunity for landowners and farmers to take advantage of developers offsetting their BNG requirements, by adding a new revenue stream for any farm business or landed estate, which may be more lucrative than what the ELMS have to offer. However, a word of caution. All businesses will need to consider their own carbon footprint before embarking on entering into any offset BNG contracts, to ensure they can reach their own net zero carbon target.

Furthermore, as this is still a new concept, values need to be carefully considered. With land needing to be set aside for BNG for a minimum of 30 years (with the Secretary of State having powers to increase this as it sees fit), it might have the negative effect of reducing the capital value of the land. This needs to be compensated by the offset contracts between landowners and developers. Tax planning for future generations also needs to be considered for landowners.

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Brian is a Town Planner and chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute with in excess of 15 years of experience accrued in local government and the private sector.

Brian acts for a broad range of clients including individuals and businesses who are in a number of sectors across the UK.