Maitland Lodge, Billericay

We were appointed by Inland Homes to promote a Green Belt site on the edge of Billericay in Basildon District.

Our Solutions

We promoted the site for approximately 50 dwellings through the emerging Basildon Local Plan, setting out the exceptional circumstances that existed to release the site from the Green Belt. The Council agreed and proposed to allocate it, but for self-build housing only and at a significantly lower capacity than we considered appropriate.

The draft Local Plan reached the examination stage but very late on in the process, Members voted to withdraw the Local Plan having regard to political sensitivities of releasing land from the Green Belt.

We had already lodged a planning application for 47 dwellings during the emerging Local Plan process in order to demonstrate the appropriateness of such a scheme and seek a change to the draft policy wording. Following the withdrawal of the draft Local Plan, we pursued the planning application but officers and Members refused the planning application due to its location in the Green Belt.

We lodged an appeal pursing two routes, firstly that the site being in equestrian/residential use comprised previously developed land and that a circa 100% increase in both footprint and volume did not amount to substantial harm to the openness of the Green Belt, and secondly that very special circumstances existed to outweigh any harms, having regard to the Council’s woeful housing land supply position and significantly out of date Local Plan.

The Outcome

Following a public inquiry, the Inspector allowed the appeal, accepting our principal argument that substantial harm to openness of the Green Belt did not arise and giving weight to the re-use of previously developed land. The Inspector also gave very substantial weight to the delivery of market and affordable housing and positive weight to other benefits.

The strategy to progress an application and appeal alongside the emerging Local Plan process ultimately ensured that Inland Homes secured planning permission significantly ahead of most other parties promoting housing within the Green Belt in Basildon.

Image courtesy of Blue Pencil Designs.