• Issue 42

  • Nov 2018

The Source

INTERESTING APPEAL DECISIONS

Mixed use development considered an inappropriate encroachment into the countryside

An appeal made by Stour Valley Construction and Groundworks against the decision of Tendring District Council to refuse a community led mixed use development including 32 houses, has been dismissed. The Inspector found that the site was within countryside for the purposes of planning policy. The Inspector also found that there would be considerable environmental harm in providing a substantial amount of housing in a location relatively lacking in services whereby occupiers would be required to make regular private car trips to fully access their needs.  The Inspector concluded that the environmental harm would be compounded by that caused by a large and uncharacteristically suburban form of housing encroaching into open countryside.

Farm buildings not applicable for Vacant Building Credit allows significant weight to be given to affordable housing provision

An appeal made by William Pershore Ltd, against Wychavon’s refusal of 27 dwellings was allowed after considering the applicability of Vacant Building Credit to farm buildings, the appropriate level of affordable housing and development plan conflict. The development lay outside the defined settlement boundary, however the Inspector concluded that although the proposals were technically a breach the council did not put forward any clear planning harms and therefore limited weight was given to the settlement boundary policy. In terms of VBC, the appellant considered the land to be brownfield, whilst the council rejected defining the land as such in the context of the 2012 Framework. The Inspector concluded the revised Framework states brownfield land is to be considered previously developed land and, if suitable, should not be expressly excluded in the supplied definition. This means that buildings occupying agricultural land do not qualify for VBC. Given that VBC does not apply, the Inspector concluded the proposed development complied fully with the council’s affordable policy expectations, which was given significant weight due to the district’s acute need for affordable housing. In conclusion, whilst the Inspector noted there was a clear technical breach of policy, there was no identified harm and this was given limited weight. Set against the benefits of the scheme the appeal was allowed.

No five-year supply and early stage of Local Plan undermines Welwyn Hatfield

An appeal made by Taylor Wimpey against Welwyn Hatfield District Council was allowed after balancing the weight to be attached to the eLP, whether the proposal would be premature and whether the council can demonstrate 5 years supply of housing. The Inspector noted it is unclear which direction the LPA would take with its Green Belt review and the need to identify further housing sites and subsequently he decided the eLP could not be considered at an advanced stage. Related to this, he noted that development of 72 dwellings would not undermine the overarching settlement strategy of the eLP and would not prejudice local objectives for Woolmer Green. In terms of 5YHLS, the development plan is older than 5 years and therefore the default method for calculating the 5 year supply is the standardised method. The Inspector considered the standardised method on the household projections released in 2018. Further to this, the Inspector considered the evidence justifying inclusion of all the supply sites fell well short of what was required. In conclusion the LPA fell someway short of having a 5YHLS and whilst the eLP is a material consideration, only limited weight could be attached to it. In the absence of a 5YHLS and the lack of any other material considerations, paragraph 11 of the Framework was engaged and the appeal was allowed.

Highways impact rules out development irrespective of housing land supply position

An Inspector has dismissed an appeal made by Landex Ltd against the decision of Babergh District Council to refuse 24 dwellings including up to 8 affordable dwellings in Boxford. The main issues were the effect on highway safety and whether the proposal accords with development plan policies for the location of new housing. The Inspector found that a policy limiting the site to 20 dwellings remains relevant and the 24 dwellings now proposed would more than double the limitation in the allocation; likely leading to the kind of highways problems which the limit sought to avoid. Irrespective of the housing land supply position, the Inspector found that the proposal had an unacceptable highways impact and the appeal should be dismissed.

Development deemed unsuitable despite need to boost housing in Tendring

An appeal for 56 dwellings against Tendring District Council’s refusal was dismissed despite the general need to boost housing in the context of a marginal and volatile five year supply. However, the moderate social and economic benefits would be significantly and demonstrably outweighed by the adverse effects of the proposal breaching development plan policy to focus only a limited amount of development within smaller settlements to avoid their unplanned spread further into the countryside. On this basis the proposal would not achieve the presumption in favour of sustainable development through the Framework and so, should be determined in accordance with the development plan. The Inspector concluded that the proposal would not reflect the appropriate spatial pattern of housing growth sought through the Local Plan and therefore the appeal should be dismissed.

Small site cannot overcome Core Strategy policy and a demonstrable 5-year housing supply

An Inspector has dismissed an appeal for 10 dwellings in Flitton, Central Bedfordshire based on the site’s impact on character and appearance. The appeal scheme is in a small village outside defined settlement envelopes, the proposal however does not constitute one of the forms of development deemed acceptable for this setting (limited infilling/employment) and the proposal therefore conflicts with the core strategy. Furthermore, the Inspector found the appeal site to be in a very open location, highly visible and with ineffective screening, the urbanising effect, when combined with Central Bedfordshire’s ability to demonstrate a supply meant the Inspector saw fit to dismiss the appeal.

‘Destruction’ of panoramic views and character overshadow social and economic benefits

An Inspector has dismissed an appeal made by Rectory Homes Limited in Oving, Aylesbury Vale for the erection of 21 dwellings. The main issues were whether the proposal would provide a suitable site for housing, having regard to settlement strategy, character and appearance and accessibility to services and facilities. The scheme exceeds policy limits of 5 dwellings in the village, however limited weight was attributed to the housing target for Oving as it predates the NPPF. In terms of character and appearance it was the opinion of the Inspector that panoramic views of the surrounding countryside would be destroyed and extensive and unsympathetic hard surfaced areas, as well as a higher density of dwellings would fail to respect the distinctive character and appearance of the village, especially as screening would take time to establish effectively. Despite the accessibility of services and facilities being reasonable, as well as economic and social benefits through the construction of the dwellings, the provision of mixed housing and potential biodiversity gain, the design of the scheme would harm character and appearance in a substantial way severely compromising the rural setting of the village, thus the appeal was dismissed.

Not enough social and economic benefits to overcome inappropriate location

An Inspector has dismissed an appeal for up to 16 dwellings in Mattishall, Breckland after weighing up character and appearance, flood risk, highway safety and access, location and housing land supply. The Inspector found that the scheme did not fully consider the context in which it sat, due to its contrasting housing density and open space provision. Residents gave written and anecdotal evidence of flooding along the edge of the site and, subject to a sequential test the Inspector determined that all other options for housing had not been exhausted, exacerbated by the fact that he saw no specific need for housing in the settlement and therefore deemed the flood risk unacceptable. Despite deducing that highway safety would not be an issue the Inspector dismissed the appeal on the basis that the scale of the scheme would not provide great enough social and economic benefits to overcome its inappropriate location and impact on the settlement’s character and appearance.

New homes favoured over previous location restricting policy

An Inspector allowed an appeal by Ethical Partnership against Northumberland County Council for 16 dwellings in Medburn. The benefits of the scheme were new homes and contribution to affordable housing. Whilst there were concerns about the impact on character of the settlement and on highway safety, the Inspector found that there would be no materially harmful effects to these factors. Whilst conflicting with LP Policy MBH2 with regards to location, other appeals that fell down on this policy had been allowed previously and regardless, the policy is out of date, giving it limited weight. The appeal was therefore allowed.