Planning inspector blows a hole in Milton Keynes Council's development rule book

The cover image of the PlanMK document
The cover image of the PlanMK document

Milton Keynes Council is seeking legal advice after a government planning inspector put a gigantic hole in its development plan, tilting housing decisions in favour of developers.

Yesterday (Thursday, Sept 26) planning inspector J P Sargent allowed two appeals against MK Council’s decisions to reject plans to build up to a total of 101 new houses in the village of Hanslope.

Mr Sargent’s decision letter says that the council only has enough land for 4.4 years, when the law says it must have a five year land supply.

In his decision letter Mr Sarjent states: “On what has been presented to me in this appeal, I find there is a housing supply of deliverable sites in the region of 4.4 years.

“In assessing this matter, I have been made aware of the appeal decision at The Globe in Hanslope. In that the Inspector found the council could demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

“Clearly the view of that inspector has been driven by the written and oral evidence put to him. I accept that the council’s evidence could have been similar to that at this hearing.

“However, that inspector found the council had ‘reduced its calculations of housing land supply to reflect the stricter definition’, but that was not particularly apparent in what was before me.” He added: “the weight I have given his findings has been limited.”

The decision has sent shock waves around Milton Keynes villages because the effect is to “tilt” the balance in favour of housing development. The same issue has opened Bedford Borough Council up to speculative planning applications across its patch.

A spokesperson for MK Council said: “We’re disappointed by the decision given that the council has received other recent appeal decisions confirming a five year housing land supply and has only recently adopted its new Local Plan (Plan:MK).

“There is significant contradiction between these decisions. The council will be seeking legal advice on the matter.”

PlanMK is the planners’ bible for the borough of Milton Keynes and it was only approved in March this year.

Castlethorpe parish council chairman, Cllr Philip Ayles, broke the news at a meeting of the Parishes Forum at MK Council on Thursday (Sept 26).

“It would put a hole in Plan:MK below the waterline,” he said. “PlanMK has been shot down in an informal planning inspector’s hearing.

“It has implications for any of us with green areas. It is a very serious thing to all of us, especially in rural areas.”

The meeting also heard that Milton Keynes Council’s Cabinet was to be asked to consider taking the matter to a judicial review, but that has not been confirmed by the council.

The planning inspector also awarded costs in favour of McCann Homes, against MK Council, in one of the appeal cases.

Both appeals were over sites off Castlethorpe Road, in Hanslope. One is for up to 50 homes, including 34 per cent affordable, and the other involves the demolition of the equestrian centre and 51 homes at Malt Mill Farm.