An appeal against the refusal of outline planning permission by Warrington Borough Council for a major urban extension to Warrington, Cheshire has been dismissed by the Housing Secretary James Brokenshire.

The proposed scheme, brought forward by Satnum Millennium Limited, would have seen the construction of 1,200 new homes, a supermarket, primary school, pub, sports pitches and 600 squared metres of community floor space on land north of Warrington.

Due to the project’s scale, the appeal was recovered for determination by the Housing Secretary. However, the proposal was blocked citing a number of concerns with the project’s deliverability, one of which related to the appellant’s incomplete ownership of the land required to enable the development.

The council had adopted a new local plan in 2014, but its policies relating to housing which included the area’s housing requirements, were removed a year later following a successful High Court challenge.

Without a housing requirement, the council was unable to calculate or demonstrate its housing land supply. On this basis, Brokenshire applied the NPPF’s “tilted balance” in favour of sustainable development.

Although he acknowledged the benefits of the scheme’s housing provision in light of the “acute unmet need” in Warrington, Brokenshire was concerned about the scheme’s deliverability.

The site was not owned by the appellant in its entirety, he noted, and the playing fields not under its control would not necessarily become available for sale. Furthermore, he added, the appellant had not secured the support of a bus operator to run services at the site.

Neither was Brokenshire satisfied that the appellant had adequately addressed the council’s concerns relating to air quality, traffic and noise.

In the planning balance, he noted that if the proposal had been considered deliverable, the fact that it could provide 1,200 homes (of which 30% would be made affordable) would attract significant weight. However, he ruled, these merits must be “left for further consideration” until the issue of control over all parts of the site is resolved. The appeal was therefore dismissed.

07 January 2019.