INTERESTING APPEAL DECISIONS
A joint appeal for 85 dwellings and 58 dwellings at Thorney Green Road, Stowupland, was allowed against Mid-Suffolk. There was no dispute between the parties that the council could not demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing land. As a result paragraph 14 was engaged. The inspector considered that the location outside settlement boundaries was not inappropriate in a scenario where there was a significant land supply deficit. Furthermore the inspector agreed with the appellant that the reduction in the amount of separation between Stowupland & Stowmarket would not be so offensive as to unify the settlements and consequently, the separate identities of both settlements would remain.
In addition, the inspector considered the proposed landscape mitigation would achieve an “acceptable level” of visual & spatial separation, as such the landscape harm could only be considered moderate. Furthermore the impact on heritage assets was considered less than substantial. Overall, whilst some moderate adverse impacts were noted, significant weight was attached to the provision of new dwellings to help address a significant housing supply deficit.
An appeal made by Space Foods Limited against the decision of Rushcliffe Borough Council for 175 dwellings in Ruddington has been allowed after the inspector found that the proposed development would not result in severe residual cumulative impacts on the local highway network. The inspector did find that whilst there would clearly be harm to the green belt by inappropriateness, loss of openness and some incursion into the countryside to the south of the village, harm would be minimal in terms of the five purposes of the green belt set out in the NPPF and the criteria in Core Strategy Policy 4. The harm would be less than that created by development of the council’s preferred sites which, in themselves attest to the need to develop green belt sites on the edge of Ruddington. There is no other harm that would arise from the proposed development, given the conclusion that it would not result in severe residual cumulative impacts on the local highway network.
The Secretary of State has recovered an appeal made against Elmbridge Borough Council for the development of a new garden village comprising up to 1,024 new residential units and associated infrastructure, and agrees with the inspector’s decision to dismiss the appeal. Despite the absence of a five year supply of housing land, which the SoS judges to be in the region of 2.65 years, the restrictive nature of the council’s green belt policy in terms of the Framework means that the Secretary of State has not applied the ‘tilted balance’. The scheme would both impact on the openness of the green belt and extend the urban form of Walton-on-Thames/Weybridge/Hersham into the green belt. Therefore, the scheme is considered inappropriate development in the green belt. Significant weight is given to the scheme’s provision for housing delivery, and moderate weight is attached in addressing the Borough’s affordable housing need. Further benefits include socio-economic and community contributions. However, the Secretary of State concludes that the appeal scheme is not in accordance with the development plan overall, and does not consider there to be material benefits that indicate that the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan.
An inspector has dismissed an appeal for 40 dwellings in Kintbury, West Berkshire. The main issues raised were the effects of the proposal on the landscape, in particular the North Wessex Downs AONB, and whether the council can demonstrate a five year housing land supply. Although a number of positive effects were identified in the planning balance, these were significantly outweighed by the acknowledged negatives of the scheme. Most significantly, the site is located within an AONB and outside Kintbury’s settlement boundary, therefore leading the inspector to conclude that the proposal would cause serious harm to the local area’s landscape quality and value. Although the appellant challenged 7 sites identified by the council to deliver within the next 5-6 year period, the inspector suggested that this evidence was insufficient and that the council can demonstrate a five year housing land supply. It was acknowledged that the tilted balance is not engaged and therefore the appeal was dismissed.
An application for 280 residential units in Grays, Thurrock was dismissed at appeal by the inspector despite the authority being unable to demonstrate a five year housing land supply. It was concluded that the substantial harm caused by the loss of green belt – namely the loss of openness, encroachment into the countryside and merging with neighbouring Tilbury, weighed significantly against the development proposal. Despite providing much needed market and affordable housing in an area with significant housing shortfall, improvements to cycle routes and employment provisions there was not enough evidence to dissuade the inspector of dismissing the appeal.
An appeal for 52 dwellings in Stotfold was dismissed after significant weight was given to the harm to character and appearance, as well as weight to issues surrounding infrastructure. The inspector concluded that the scheme would be a significant intrusion into the open countryside and would not align with the current urban fringe of the settlement. As such, the proposal was in conflict with the Local Plan in this regard.
Furthermore, and interesting to note, the inspector concluded that the council were in their right to refuse to sign a planning obligation regarding infrastructure due to ambiguity with the information the land registry held on the site. Owing to a small area of unregistered land within the site boundary, the inspector agreed with the council that this could create significant issues with enforceability of a planning obligation or UU. As a result of these two matters the appeal was dismissed.
The Secretary of State agreed with his inspector and allowed an appeal for 1,000 dwellings in Tamworth. The SoS concluded that the proposal was in accordance with the Local Plan and National planning policy and there were no material considerations which indicated that the development could not be determined in accordance with the development plan. The SoS gave significant weight to the provision of housing and affordable housing. Moderate weight was attached to the economic benefits of the scheme in terms of jobs created and CIL payments. Little weight was attached to loss of low value agricultural land and the impact on heritage assets was considered low.