Interesting Appeal Decisions
An appeal for 350 dwellings in Kettering was allowed after balancing whether off-site highway works would appropriately mitigate the significant impacts on the highway network. Although both junctions at Northampton Road/Gipsy Lane and Warren Hill/Gipsy Lane would be hugely over-capacity as a result of the development, the Inspector was satisfied that appropriate highways mitigation was in place via S106 to alleviate pressure on these interchanges. Concern at the proposal’s impact on character and appearance, specifically the loss of numerous street trees on Gipsy Lane, was not shared by the Inspector who felt that even with the loss of these trees, the area would retain a green quality following construction. The proposal was acknowledged as making appropriate S106 obligations including highway improvements and 30% affordable housing. There was no dispute that Kettering could not demonstrate five years housing land supply, therefore the Inspector stated that 350 dwellings would make a significant contribution and the appeal was allowed.
An appeal for up to 160 dwellings in Allerton, Liverpool has been allowed. The main issues were the impact on local heritage assets, on the boundary wall, on ecology & biodiversity, on the Calderstones/Woolton Green Wedge and whether the council could demonstrate 5 years housing land supply. Although it was acknowledged that the proposal would fail to preserve the setting of locally listed buildings, the Inspector felt that the proposal would make a significant contribution to the upkeep of other non-designated heritage assets, including the boundary wall through which access would be taken into the site. The council raised the lack of ecological evidence submitted with the proposal; however the Inspector felt that the ecological and landscape management proposals would sufficiently mitigate the ecological impacts, finding no conflict with nature conservation, ecology enhancement and tree protection requirements in the UDP. The site’s location in the Green Wedge would pose limited harm, confined mainly to the western edge. As a whole, the proposal would reduce the physical separation between existing built-up areas, but at the same time would have little or no harm in respect of many requirements of the policy. Although the council claim a five year supply, the Inspector concluded that Liverpool could only demonstrate 4.6 years. Therefore, a proposal of this size would make a significant contribution toward achieving a five year supply of deliverable housing land and the appeal was allowed.
An appeal for 480 dwellings in Grantham, South Kesteven has been allowed. The main issues were impact on settings of heritage assets and whether the proposed development would make adequate provision of infrastructure, including affordable housing. The Inspector found the proposal would result in some changes to the landscape and parts of the development would be visible from some heritage assets. However, these changes would not detrimentally alter the visual relationships between the heritage assets and their wider context, nor would it fundamentally alter how the assets are experienced; whether visually or in historical or other associative aspects of setting. The Inspector also found the S106 agreement to be sufficient in infrastructure contributions. None of a number of other matters including highway concerns, air quality, biodiversity, noise, lighting and property values provided justification for refusal of permission. Alongside these considerations it was noted the council cannot currently demonstrate a five year supply. For the above reasons, the Inspector allowed the appeal.
An appeal for 14 dwellings in Walkeringham, Bassetlaw, was allowed, the main issues being impact on existing flood risk and the location’s sustainability. The Inspector agreed the site is located in flood risk zone 1, but was satisfied a suitable SuDs scheme could be designed, resulting in an acceptable flood risk and surface water drainage. Walkeringham is identified as a rural service centre in the Core Strategy which the council claim could not sustain this growth, alongside construction of 32 dwellings in the village, without travel to other centres. The Inspector considered the site sustainable and with only a marginal population increase, there is little evidence to suggest existing services would be unable to cope. The Inspector took into consideration proximity to the Methodist Chapel, a non-designated heritage asset with important architectural interest, aesthetic appeal and integrity. However, as an appeal seeking outline permission only, reserved matters could ensure that its significance is not detrimentally affected. The Inspector addressed these issues and concluded the benefits of the proposal outweigh the harms and as the council cannot claim a housing land supply, the presumption in favour of sustainable development is engaged and the appeal allowed.
An Inspector concluded that planning permission should not be granted for 23 dwellings in Stroud, chiefly due to being located in a policy (and physical) sense within the countryside, where only limited development is permitted. The site did not constitute a rural exception, despite the affordable housing whose delivery could not be guaranteed and most units not being classed as affordable. Concerns over incoherent and unsympathetic housing design and its relation to the setting of a Victorian pub further conflicted with policy. Protected species such as badgers, dormice and reptiles would also be put unacceptably at risk by the project. Furthermore, the Lead Local Flood Authority noted that measures proposed to combat drainage issues were insufficient. Ultimately, the impact on the nearby Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and RAMSAR site had a lack of promising mitigation strategies. It was the conclusion of the Inspector that, whilst there were benefits of housing provision, the council could demonstrate a 5 year supply, and the problems detailed were too great to overcome.
An appeal against refusal of a hybrid application of 254 dwellings in Tongham, Guildford Borough, Surrey was allowed with healthcare provision, highway safety, SANG and its accessibility and loss of agricultural land forming the main issues. Both parties agreed the council can only demonstrate 2.36 years supply. The Inspector paid attention to local residents’ and GP’s concerns over negative consequences for existing healthcare. However, North East Hampshire & Farnham/Surrey Heath NHS and the Clinical Commissioning Groups were aware and neither objected or sought financial contributions, to which the Inspector attached more weight. Local residents were concerned with increased traffic and pedestrian flow, although there was no evidence of unacceptable levels of traffic flow. Furthermore, Natural England had no objection to the proposed SANG and access to it, to which the Inspector attached significant weight. Overall, the Inspector concluded that despite being contrary to Policy RE4 in the Local Plan (protecting open land), this policy was out of date. The Inspector ultimately accepted the concerns of local residents but, with such benefits as affordable homes and addressing housing need and the site relating well to the settlement, he did not believe they demonstrated the development should be refused and allowed the appeal on the basis that the modest harms do not outweigh the significant benefits.
An appeal against West Lindsey’s decision to refuse a sustainable village extension, comprising 325 dwellings in Newton on Trent has been dismissed. The recently adopted Central Lincolnshire Local Plan (CLLP, April 2017) focuses growth on the main urban areas of Lincoln, Gainsborough and Sleaford. This proposal would clearly exceed the threshold of small-scale development, reserved for ‘Small Villages’ like Newton-on-Trent in the settlement hierarchy. The Inspector was concerned that the appellant did not gauge public support before the application was submitted. Without clear evidence of public support required for BREEAM accreditation, the scheme cannot justify an extension of the settlement well beyond the 10% found acceptable in the council’s planning policy (addition of 325 dwellings to 167 existing dwellings in the settlement). The Inspector judged that the sequential test would be relevant to this proposal, due to its location in a Small Village. Since this test was not satisfied, it would be necessary to consider whether the exception test is met. As the Inspector had insufficient evidence to say that the local residents are in support of this scheme, the harm of unwarranted growth to a tier 3 settlement and the site’s unsustainable location for services and traffic were considered to outweigh the benefits of flood-mitigation and the introduction of BREEAM design principles. Therefore the appeal was dismissed.