Housing would support primary school suffering pupil decline

A mixed use scheme on the edge of a rural settlement in Gloucestershire has been supported by an inspector despite the council demonstrating that it had an adequate supply of housing land.

The proposal involved the provision of 31 open and affordable housing units together with a 60-bed dementia care home, public open space and allotments. In opposing the scheme the council raised various concerns including the scale of the development relative to the local population which was also contrary to its core strategy which sought to limit the amount of new housing in rural areas. The village had only limited services and the majority of new housing should be focused on the larger settlements which would produce the most sustainable form of development. It was further concerned about the impact of an emerging development plan policy which sought to identify new sites for development and set settlement boundaries.

The spatial strategy had been judged sound, the inspector recorded, and there was no reason to dispute the council’s claim that an adequate supply of housing land was available. But the village had a range of services including three pubs, a shop and post office and other facilities. It would only lead to a three per cent increase in the number of households in the village and would support a local primary school which had declining pupil numbers. There were also other indications that the sustainability of the village was fragile including a falling population. There was also a local demand for more open market and affordable units although the inspector was less convinced that the care home would serve only local needs, thereby leading to some increase in travel movements.

In undertaking the balancing exercise the inspector decided that the adverse impacts of developing in the countryside would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. The adopted core strategy did envisage some development in rural areas and would not therefore compromise the council’s aim of directing the majority of new housing to the larger settlements.

Inspector: P Clark; Hearing

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