North Devon District Council refuse Chivenor new homes – February 2021

North Devon District Council planners have refused permission for more new houses at Chivenor.

The decision follows evidence, based on the government’s own figures, that North Devon has delivered a third more homes than were actually required over the last five years

North Devon’s Planning Committee responded to evidence from local objectors, including ourselves, with an emphatic refusal for 59 new homes at Chivenor Cross near Braunton (application 71660). Councillors voted 9-3 against the application, which was not in the Local Plan and had been refused before, but it was resubmitted because the authority was deemed to lack a five-year Housing Land Supply.

We welcomed the planning refusal as a “significant statement that North Devon Council is not prepared to allow the area to become a developers’ free-for-all just because the planning system is broken”.

North Devon and Torridge were the first planning authorities to receive a detailed briefing document, which is being circulated to all the Devon planning committees, prepared by our trustee Steve Crowther. If any member would like a copy of the comprehensive briefing note, please contact us.

Steve says, “Supported by the detailed evidence that we and others submitted, the Committee took the strong stance that they should stand by their previous policy-based decision not to allow building on this site, despite the temptation to tip another 59 houses into their leaking Land Supply bucket. This is hugely encouraging. Our evidence highlighted that the Courts are increasingly weighing in to support authorities who are not prepared to be ‘bounced’ into making bad, contra-policy decisions just because of this trap called the Housing Land Supply.”

The Land Supply metric, part of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework, tilts the balance in favour of ‘sustainable development’ if the authority cannot demonstrate that it can meet its housing land supply targets over the next 5 years. According to CPRE, up to two-thirds of local authorities nationally could be in this situation.

“This false measure, which rendered the North Devon & Torridge Local Plan out-of-date after 14 months, is seen as a developer’s charter. In essence, the longer they fail to build the permissions they have been granted, the more permissions they can demand. Now, though, recent High Court and Appeal Court decisions have confirmed that Councillors are perfectly entitled to continue to refuse applications that are unsustainable or don’t comply with their broader planning policies.”

The planning refusal comes hot on the heels of a government measurement showing that almost all Devon’s Local Planning Authorities have over-delivered against their housing requirements for the last five years.

The Housing Delivery Test, published in January, showed that Devon as a whole had provided over 6,000 more homes than were actually required over the past 5 years, including more than 1,000 in North Devon & Torridge.

Devon CPRE Director Penny Mills says, “The government’s own figures vindicate what we have been saying for years. In 2018, Devon CPRE commissioned an independent report from specialists at Opinion Research Services to establish the true number of homes needed across Devon. It showed that delivering 4,300 homes each year would meet all local needs, allowing for a continuation of past migration trends and a fall in average household sizes.

“A second report produced for us by ORS last year concluded that 2.3 million homes are needed nationally over the decade 2020-30 to meet household growth and provide for past under-supply – an average of 230,000 each year, not the 300,000+ that the government are pressing for.”