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Council disappointed at appeal decision and impact it will have on residents waiting for housing

Fenland District Council has spoken of its "disappointment" after a recent Planning Inspectorate decision affecting its 5 year housing land supply and affordable housing provision.

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The Government Planning Inspector has upheld an appeal against the Council's decision to refuse planning permission for six dwellings on land south west of Syringa House, Upwell Road, Christchurch, in September last year.

The proposal was refused for reasons including zero provision for affordable housing on the site, making it contrary to the Fenland Local Plan which requires sites of five to nine dwellings to provide 20% affordable housing to help address Fenland's housing pressures.

The Inspector concluded that the Council no longer has the Government-stipulated five-year Housing Land Supply.

The Council has a supply of 4.93 years - a shortfall of just 0.07 years - as although more than sufficient planning permissions have been granted by the Council, the permissions are not being built out, which is outside of the Council's control

Officers will now monitor the land supply and planning permissions granted to ensure the supply is restored at the earliest opportunity. The Council will also consider the marginal shortfall when making decisions on planning applications.

The Inspector also ruled that the Council should bring its affordable housing policy in line with recent Government guidance which states affordable housing should not be sought on sites of less than ten dwellings as it makes them uneconomic to develop. The Council had retained a policy of asking for affordable housing on five to nine dwellings due to the significant need for affordable housing across the district and the ability for developers to go through a viability process to reduce this requirement if it was undeliverable.

Councillor Will Sutton, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing, said: "We were fully aware our affordable housing policy did not align with Government guidelines but due to our significant affordable housing need and lack of housing delivery, we strongly believed 20% affordable housing should still be provided on sites of less than ten dwellings.

"There have also been recent planning appeal decisions which have allowed affordable housing on small sites, contrary to the Government guidelines.

"We are therefore extremely disappointed by this decision and the impact it will have on the 2,200 residents on our housing register awaiting suitable accommodation."

Article added: November 20, 2017