Planning permission has been refused for the construction of four dwellings, due to the failure of the development to provide affordable housing. The appeal site involved a development on the amenity land associated with a pub, of which a further site was being developed for an additional four dwellings.
The appellant argued that the two sites should be treated separately and therefore no affordable housing contribution was required because both sites fell below the 5 unit Local Plan Policy threshold for the provision of Affordable Housing. The inspector applied the Branlord Test which considers the following:
Whether both sites are in single ownership: The majority of both sites were in single ownership with the access point to the appeal site being in different ownership. The inspector held that when viewed as a whole, the vast majority of the sites are all in the same ownership and thus the relatively small area in separate ownership would not be sufficient for the purposes of the Branlord test.
Whether the sites constitute a single site for planning purposes: It was noted that whilst the two sites were physically independent of each other and had separate accesses, when the pub had been in use they formed a single site. The inspector held that for the purposes of planning they formed a single site.
Whether the proposals can be deemed to constitute a single development: As both sites had their own accesses they were capable of being developed entirely separate from each other. However the dwellings on both sites were of a similar design, in close proximity to one another and being constructed simultaneously therefore they should be considered as part of a larger whole.
The inspector held that the Branlord test was failed, the floorspace of the eight dwellings combined would exceed the 1,000 sqm threshold for small sites in the NPPG and there was no planning obligation to provide Affordable Housing and consequently dismissed the appeal.
This is a reminder to developers that Local Planning Authorities will seek to apply Affordable Housing thresholds to a larger site if they consider that there has been an artificial separation of a site. Where developers are looking to obtain planning permission for two adjacent sites it is important to understand the full implications of Branlord before proceeding with one or more planning applications.