Countryside protection policy set aside due to lack of housing supply

Ninety-five homes have been allowed on greenfield agricultural land in the open countryside in Cheshire, an inspector deciding that the NPPF presumption in favour of sustainable development outweighed local plan policy in the context of a lack of a five year supply of housing land.

The inspector concluded that the council was unable to demonstrate a five-year supply and as a consequence local policy protecting the open countryside from housing development became out of date.

Reviewing the proposal against the three strands of sustainable development defined in the NPPF, the inspector found that the scheme fulfilled a social role by providing 30 per cent of units as affordable dwellings and would also support the viability of the community of the adjacent small town.  An economic benefit was derived from construction jobs and support for local businesses, generated from a site which was readily available and could be built and occupied within five years. In terms of environmental sustainability, the inspector noted that the houses would be within walking distance of the town centre services and that a hedgerow management plan had been offered by the  appellant. Although these environmental benefits were somewhat eroded by the harm to the verdant rural character of the area in overall terms the scheme was a sustainable one.

Inspector: Frances Mahoney; Inquiry


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