The appeal scheme proposed enabling residential development to fund a new health centre, for which there was a recognised need in the area. The health centre would be delivered by the Appellant, at no capital cost to the NHS and on favourable commercial terms for 15 years. The appeal scheme was supported by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and GP practices in the area.
The decision turned on whether there were reasonably available alternative sites on which to accommodate a health centre and if there were such alternatives, whether the benefits of the development nevertheless outweighed the harms in circumstances where the parties agreed that the development could be made safe from flooding for its lifetime.
The Inspector found that two sites were sequentially preferable to the appeal site. Detailed planning and viability evidence was presented as to the appropriateness, capacity and viability of delivering a health centre together with the necessary quantum of enabling development to fund its delivery on those sites.
Notwithstanding the benefits that would arise from the delivery of a new health centre and the proposed housing and affordable housing and the improvements to the character and appearance of the area, the Inspector gave very significant weight to the failure of the flood risk sequential test, which was determinative of the appeal. This decision highlights the importance of the flood risk sequential test even in circumstances where it is demonstrated that development can be made safe for its lifetime.
A copy of the decision can be found here.