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Sibleys win appeal over Holy Vale housing

The Isles of Scilly Council has been ordered to pay Ian Sibley more than £6,000 after he won an appeal against a planning decision.

The application, submitted by Ian on behalf of the Holy Vale Partnership, was for the reconfiguration of five existing dwellings and the conversion of outbuildings to create three new dwellings at Holy Vale. It was rejected at a planning meeting in September 2016 after Members said it was contrary to the Local Plan.

The accompanying report recommended that the application be refused on the basis that the dwellings would be available on the open market. Policy 3 of the Local Plan states that in order to promote sustainable communities, no ‘general open market housing’ will be permitted but new builds should be tied to a 'specific local need', affordable housing, or housing to accommodate a 'key worker'.

Ian Sibley had claimed that a heavily restricted scheme would not justify the significant capital investment, nor permit access to loan finance and so the buildings will continue to deteriorate and fall into disrepair. They therefore asked that the Planning Committee consider the application on the basis of national, rather than exclusively local, planning policies.

When the application was refused, Ian lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate, which subsequently found in his favour. The appeal, made on his behalf by planning consultants Evans Jones, argued that policy 3 is time expired and not compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework and also that the local authority has failed to maintain a five year supply of housing land.

The Planning Inspectorate commented in its appeal decision: "There is therefore no robust evidence before me to support the Council’s position that they are able to demonstrate a five year land supply, or to indicate what has become of the shortfall in market housing provision…"

It also stated: "The main issue in this appeal is... whether or not the harm resulting from the conflict with policy 3 of the Local Plan would be outweighed by the benefits of the development proposed..."

As well as granting the appeal, the Planning Inspectorate ordered the Council to pay the costs incurred by Ian and the Holy Vale Partnership, saying: "[I] find that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary or wasted expense, as described in the Guidance, has been demonstrated and that a full award of costs is justified."

Evans Jones also lodged an appeal on behalf of the owners of White Cottage on St Mary's, who were refused permission to demolish the existing two-bedroom timber chalet and build a replacement cottage. The application was turned down primarily on the grounds that it also sought permission for an unrestricted dwelling and was therefore also contrary to the Local Plan.

Evans Jones Head of Planning David Jones said: “Whilst both proposals are relatively small in development terms, they demonstrate that the islands are not subject to ‘special protection’ and national policy as set out in the National Framework applies to the Islands in exactly the same way as it applies throughout England.

"The appeal decisions clarify the local authority’s position in respect to housing supply and I suspect will lead to other proposals for open market housing coming forward for consideration in the near future."

However, the decisions have caused concern among Councillors. Cllr Steve Sims said: "I can understand the reasons but I'm very worried about setting a precedent that could be very problematic for the islands. We simply do not have the land to allow unrestricted open new market builds.

"Woefully insufficient affordable housing is causing enormous problems already and if unrestricted open market housing is allowed as indicated, Scilly as a viable community has a very limited future."


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