“Local Needs” Occupancy Condition Upheld With Disastrous Consequences For Purchaser

The Secretary of State has upheld a planning condition restricting the occupation of a new-build home upheld, requiring the new owners to rent nearby for three years before they can live in the property they purchased.

The appellants purchased a partially completed new-build home in Broughton, North Yorkshire. The home was approved by Ryedale District Council subject to various planning conditions including a “local needs occupancy” one.

The appellants argued that they had bought the home “in good faith” on the understanding that they complied with the second requirement of the local needs occupancy condition, which stated that “people who do not live in the parish but have a long-standing connection to the local community, including a previous residence of over three years” will meet the requirement. 

The appellants argued that they meet the requirement because they had lived in the wider Ryedale district for about 10 years.

The Inspector concluded that term ‘local community’ suggested a more limited geographical meaning than the whole district, “i.e. within and near to Broughton”. This reading of the second requirement of the policy was, in his opinion, corroborated by the fourth requirement which referred explicitly to the district, suggesting that if “district” was meant in the second paragraph, it would have been written there instead of “local community”.

The Inspector acknowledged that if he upheld the condition, the appellants would need to rent a property in the area for three years in order to meet the policy requirement and occupy the home they have purchased. Although he sympathised with the financial costs of this predicament, he ruled that “such personal circumstances cannot outweigh conflict with planning policy”. Concluding that the removal of the condition was not justified, he dismissed the appeal.