Luton Borough Council – Appeal Allowed for 10 Midland Road

The appeal hearing took place in Luton Town Hall on 26th November 2019. The hearing represented the culmination of a number of months’ worth of preparation and research, including several lengthy conference calls with the project team, where our appeal strategy was finalised.

The appeal decision permits the erection of five buildings to accommodate 227 apartments alongside parking and community facilities at 10 Midland Road. This scheme had initially been refused planning permission at Committee despite the Case Officer’s recommendation for approval following dialogue with Luton Borough Council’s independent viability assessor. Following on from the hearing, the Inspector’s report confirmed that the required level of affordable housing would render the proposal unviable, based on the robust viability assessment submitted by Optimis.

As this was my first involvement in an appeal hearing, it was fascinating to observe the Inspector as he led the investigation with a series of challenging questions for both sides of the debate. I learnt about the complexities of providing affordable housing contributions in practice, particularly in Luton when viability is a widespread and well-recognised issue. Dialogue between the Council and the appellant related closely to the proposed offsite contributions and whether the scheme was in accordance with Policy LLP16 of Luton Borough Local Plan and Paragraph 62 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2019).

The viability assessment ultimately demonstrated that the provision of affordable housing would have led to profit levels which were considered unviable for the developer. As a result, a financial contribution towards off-site affordable housing and other requirements was instead agreed upon. We are delighted with this result and believe that the scheme will act as a catalyst for regenerating the sustainable High Town Area of Luton.

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