• Issue 32

  • Jan 2018

The Source

Interesting Appeal Decisions

Inspector gets housing need and allows scheme near South Hams AONB

A planning inspector concluded that planning permission should be granted for construction of 65 dwellings in Tamerton Foliot, Devon after considering landscape impact and the setting of Tamar Valley AONB. This would conflict with Policies CS9 and DP2 of the local plan but these concerns were dismissed as the site was not within the AONB nor visually obstructive. Although the inspector recognised the development would conflict with landscape policies within the emerging plan these would be minor and as the emerging plan is not at an advanced stage very little weight could be given.  Highway impacts were not considered severe enough to prevent development proceeding and the inspector concluded that whilst the council has a shortfall of housing supply and is silent on housing requirement, it was not of major significance to this case. The inspector’s overall assessment was that minor impacts do not outweigh the significant benefits to be gained in providing housing, including affordable housing.

Appeal dismissed to prevent quantum shift opening in the North Wessex Downs AONB

A planning inspector concluded that planning permission should not be granted for erection of up to 32 dwellings and associated access in Hungerford, West Berkshire. A number of key issues were raised including: highway matters, landscape character, North Wessex Downs AONB, setting of a heritage asset, effect on a Grade II listed building and local green infrastructure. The development would not cause a significant increase in transport activity and posed no increased risk to highway users in accordance with policy CS13. The inspector concluded a permanent and quantum shift of character at a sensitive point between settlement and countryside would occur. Furthermore it was recognised that the location was importantly a defining area of the NWD-AONB. It was also argued that Kintbury conservation area, a key heritage asset, would undergo demonstrable suburbanisation if the development was to go ahead, but Kintbury Park as a grade II listed building would be sufficiently preserved. Finally, it was highlighted that there would be a substantial impact on local green infrastructure through loss of venerable bank and hedges conflicting with local policy. It was the conclusion of the inspector that whilst there were benefits of provision of housing, these benefits were very substantially outweighed by the significant harm to the NWD-AONB.

Inspector allows housing as a smaller site will inevitably require smaller contributions

In the successful appeal for part of an Eco Town in Bicester in Cherwell, the primary contested points were terms of the planning obligations and conditions. The council argued that fewer houses coming forward in the final phase of the town would reduce the amount paid for infrastructure improvements. The inspector concluded that this was an inevitable consequence of planning obligations and a reduced number of houses would warrant a reduced infrastructure contribution. Therefore the outline permission with fewer obligations and conditions would not compromise the delivery of the eco town concept. It was deemed all other planning balance issues, namely, community, social and transport infrastructure, highway safety for pedestrians, provision of green infrastructure, biodiversity and supply of public transport, were adequately provisioned for.

Economic benefits of development nullify harms

A planning inspector allowed an appeal against North Devon District Council for 55 dwellings in Braunton.  The inspector accepted the council’s opinion that there would be some form of impact on views, ecology and highways but that the mitigation strategies put in place rendered these complaints inert in the planning balance. Whilst the inspector agreed that the development would be in the open countryside and on agricultural land, planning policy allowed such development if the economic benefits were worthwhile. As such, the appeal was allowed with the proviso of conditions concerning tree protection schemes, contamination monitoring and drainage accuracy.

Inspector breezes through uncontested appeal

An appeal at Formby for approximately 95 dwellings was allowed as the council’s original reasons for refusal had been satisfied in a second application on the site (Ref. DC/2017/ 00606) which had since been approved subject to s106 and conditions. The council confirmed at the inquiry that as all the reasons for refusal had been overcome with the second application, accordingly the council did not seek to resist this appeal. The inspector did explore matters of concern to local residents, in particularly the site’s proximity to Hoggs Lane Level Crossing, however noted a nominal increase in risk as a result of the development and as such no conflict with policy EQ3 of the Local Plan. The appeal was allowed.

Sometimes, just housing is sufficient

A planning inspector allowed an appeal for 41 new homes in North Hertfordshire, prior to which, it had already been agreed that the council cannot demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply. This was given significant weight in balancing and, despite causing some harm to rural character and appearance, limited public transport and lack of infrastructure contributions, the scheme was allowed owing to provision of market and affordable housing and economic benefits.

Monks not Abbey in AONB

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal against Stroud’s refusal for 10 dwellings after demolition of the disused Prinknash Abbey. The appeal site is considered to be surrounded by open countryside and distinctly separate from the settlements that populate the lower slopes. Having said this, the inspector found the site accessible to local services and in a sustainable location. Whilst demolition of the abbey in itself would represent some enhancement to the AONB, due to its imposing nature on the landscape, the proposal must demonstrate enhancement to the AONB on its own merits. Although the site has been previously developed, it would not conserve or enhance the distinctive characteristics of the area and would instead impact the landscape character and setting of the adjacent Grade I listed St Peter’s Grange through the introduction of a suburban character to a rural area. Despite contributions to off-site affordable housing, bus link provisions and the social and economic benefits of housing provision, the impact on the setting of the heritage asset and surrounding landscape was sufficient to outweigh the material benefits of the scheme.