The secretary of state noted that there was only a 2.1 year supply of available housing land in the borough. However, he agreed with the inspector that there was little evidence of a design led approach to the scheme and little attempt to connect the housing into its countryside setting.
He therefore concluded that the proposal fell significantly short of the expectation for high quality design in both the local plan and the NPPF. In particular, he found that no distinctive elements appeared to have been addressed to ground the development in the town, either in terms of the layout, engagement with the surrounding moorland or with local landmarks.
He found that the use of retaining walls, to cope with the sloping nature of the site, would become the defining element of the entire development as considerable lengths were proposed, and that this approach would give the site a significantly engineered appearance, for which there was no reference locally.
The secretary of state also agreed with the inspector that there should have been an assessment of the needs of the local community and at least a justification for the sole provision of two-storey 2, 3 and predominantly 4 bedroom market dwellings.
The secretary of state concluded that while the site could be regarded as a sustainable location, the scheme was relatively unsustainable because of failings with the design approach.
Inspector: Mike Robins; Inquiry