Lanner village loses court challenge on affordable homes
A Cornish parish has suffered costly defeat in a High Court bid to scotch plans for 25 new affordable homes on the edge of the historic mining community.
Lanner Parish Council had attacked Cornwall Council's decision to grant planning consent for the scheme as a violation of its own housing and countryside protection policies.
Lawyers argued it was "perverse" of Cornwall to give Coastline Housing Limited the green light for such a large development on Tresavean Farm, a greenfield site just outside the village.
They pointed to a local policy which specifically stated that only "about 12" affordable homes would be permitted on any one rural site near one of the county's larger villages.
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However, dismissing Lanner's challenge, Judge Anthony Thornton QC said that limit was not set in stone and Cornwall was entitled to exceed it in light of the desperate need for more affordable homes in an area blighted by low wages and high property prices and the council was entitled to put little weight on a policy which "was not considered fit for purpose any more". Councillors had been properly informed of the meaning and effect of the policy before deciding that, in their "planning judgment", there were good reasons for exceeding the cap.
Arguments that Cornwall went wrong when assessing the level of need for affordable housing by Lanner residents – instead taking into account a broader need within a wider area – were also rejected by the judge.
He added that councillors were entitled to take into account their own "collective and individual knowledge" of the general housing situation in Lanner and adjoining villages and the lack of any affordable housing being built in the area in the past 20 years.
The parish council had argued that, although it has no objection in principle to affordable housing on the site, the 25-home development is more than twice what is needed, and what was envisaged for the land in the council's own Local Plan.
However, Cornwall's lawyers argued successfully that that policy did not form an "absolute bar" on granting planning permission for larger developments to meet local needs.
Cornwall Council's Cabinet member for housing and planning and Lanner resident Mark Kaczmarek said: "I am delighted that this local needs housing can finally go ahead.
"The judge's decision has given Cornwall Council the support needed to deliver affordable housing, not just in Lanner but in the rest of Cornwall which can only be good news for the thousands of those in housing need.
"I'd like to thank those people who have written to me, not just from Lanner and the surrounding areas but from all over Cornwall, to express their support for the council's decision."