In a “David and Goliath” case, a small parish council has won a high court victory over a housing developer that wanted to build in the local area.
Old Hunstanton Parish Council contested the application, saying the government should never have approved the houses in the first place. The affordable housing development of 15 homes was planned for a location on the edge of the parish, despite the fact that there was no local demand for the properties.
The original housing application had been refused at first, but accepted on appeal. The development of new homes would have effectively joined Old Hunstanton with its neighbour, Hunstanton, which local residents did not want.
Additionally, there was no immediate need for affordable housing in Old Hunstanton – the demand would have come from the larger Hunstanton. This allowed the parish council to challenge the developer on the grounds that a greenfield development was only permitted if there was a “local identified need”.
Councils are often in a difficult position when dealing with housing developments. As Nick Daubney, West Norfolk Council leader, commented, “As a local authority we have a duty to follow government guidance. In doing so we are always wishing to take account of local opinion. With government policies requiring housing growth and local public opinion often resisting or tending not to favour growth, it leaves local councils treading a difficult path.”
The Conservatives’ manifesto included a promise to build an extra 275,000 affordable homes as one of the party’s major priorities. However, this has often resulted in tension in areas where local residents feel there is no need for further housing, or that the chosen location for housing is inappropriate.
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