DLP Planning Ltd have recently completed a four day Public Local Inquiry in respect of a refusal by Bedford Borough Council to grant planning permission for the development of land for residential development purposes at Box End, Kempston.
The Box End site has the benefit of planning permission for a 70 bedroom hotel development granted in 1989 and commenced some years later, which has not been built out. There had been earlier proposals for residential development of the site which were resisted on the loss of employment land, however, the scheme advanced by DLP was for the development of 11 large detached units set within a landscaped setting which also sought to reinstate the ‘pleasure grounds’ attached to a grade II* listed building, Box End House.
DLP argued that the ‘fall back’ of the completion of the hotel would have a significant impact on the setting of the listed building, whereas the residential development was accepted by the planning authority to cause ‘less than significant harm’.
The planning authority argued that the fall-back position was untenable, and in countering this DLP advanced recent assessment reports prepared on behalf of the Council for its local plan review which identified a series of drivers for new hotel development, there being ‘unmet demand’ in the area for new hotel accommodation. One such driver was the leisure market, the site being located adjacent to a significant leisure attractor, Box End Water Park.
The Council also argued the site was isolated and unsustainable however, it is located some 1.7km from the urban area and whilst poorly served in terms of bus services would necessitate only minimal car journeys to access a range of services and facilities, in accordance with Framework advice.
A further element of the case put by both parties related to housing land supply, DLP arguing on the basis of a deficit in five year supply set against extant development plan targets and their own assessment of need. The council, in refuting this, sought to rely on a newly published but untested OAN which suggests that the council have a large surplus in the supply of land.
A decision on the appeal is expected in April.