Reservoir redevelopment harms highways and protected species

An inspector was not persuaded to allow an appeal involving 22 self-build homes on a former reservoir in Durham concluding that the site occupied an unsustainable location and would harm highway safety and a protected butterfly species.

The former reservoir and buildings had been demolished and the appellant stated that the scheme would make good use of previously developed land allowing executive homes to be developed on a self build basis. Moreover he also asserted that the existing vegetation would if left unmanaged preclude the butterfly from colonising the site over the next 5-10 years. He also drew attention to the government’s desire to significantly boost the supply of housing and encourage economic development within rural areas.

The site was isolated from a nearby settlement the inspector determined and the need to improve housing supply did not outweigh the principles regarding the location and sustainability of residential development in the countryside. The need to provide self-build housing sites should be considered as part of the council’s local plan preparation which should also include the need for executive housing.

The planned access at the brow of a hill provided inadequate visibility splays and introducing a roundabout would not guarantee that vehicle speeds to be reduced to acceptable levels. It would also lead to the loss of an important habitat the butterfly identified as a priority species within a biodiversity action plan. No mitigation for this loss was planned and consequently the proposal would fail to ensure that the biodiversity of the site was conserved and enhanced.

Inspector: M Seaton; Written representations

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