Harris Lamb’s planning consultancy team has successfully secured planning permission for a 77-property development in Lichfield following an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

The team submitted plans for 77 homes on land off Eastern Avenue last Autumn on behalf of its client, only to have them unanimously rejected by the district council’s planning committee on the grounds that it would result in a loss of employment land.

Simon Hawley said: “This former industrial site has been vacant since 2008 and despite extensive marketing, a tenant had not been identified. Our client aimed to redevelop the brownfield site to fulfil the demand for housing in Lichfield.

“Earlier this year, the plans were put before Lichfield District Council, and were rejected by the planning committee, who claimed that the plans would lead to an unacceptable loss of employment land. As a result, we appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to review the decision.”

The Inspectorate has now over-ruled the council’s objections, stating that according to the authority’s Employment Land Review (ELR), the district has an excessive quantity of employment sites that are suitable for development, and has furthermore deemed the client’s intention to make a £300,000 educational contribution to provide more school places in the area un-necessary.

John Wilde, of the Planning Inspectorate, stated: “The Council’s own ELR (Employment Land Review) concludes that there is a potential oversupply of around 150 hectares (of employment land). At the Hearing the Council pointed out that not all of the sites identified within the ELR would necessarily be eventually deemed suitable for employment use and that therefore it did not take the potential sites into account when evaluating the appeal planning application. However, the appeal site is only 2.6 hectares and it seems extremely unlikely that the ELR would identify potential sites for the vast majority of them to be then considered unsuitable at a later stage.”

With regard to the financial educational contribution requirement, Mr Wilde added: “I would have to be persuaded that the relevant schools were at capacity and were therefore unable to accept pupils from the proposed development without further places being made available.

From the information that has been provided I do not consider that that situation has been demonstrated. It has not therefore been demonstrated that the contribution is necessary to make the development acceptable.”

The report concludes: “I have found that the proposed development would not result in the unacceptable loss of employment land and would not be in conflict with the adopted local plan. It would provide much needed affordable and market housing in a brownfield and sustainable location.”

Simon added: “We are very pleased with the result of this appeal, which will allow our client to regenerate an attractive brownfield site and meet the demand of residents keen to live in Lichfield district.”

Development work at the site is expected to start in 2015.