Editor's pick: Urban extension refused to preserve green wedge

Despite recognising its housing supply benefits, the secretary of state has refused an outline scheme for 550 homes in the North East due to uncertainty over the build rate and a failure to maintain adequate separation between settlements.

The appeal site comprised former farmland within the limits of a modern town, bounded on two of its three main sides by existing development. The land was notated as a green wedge on a local plan proposals map. The appellant claimed that as the proposals map was not saved at the same time as the local plan policies, no weight should be given to this designation.

The secretary of state agreed that it would be illogical for green wedges to appear on a proposals map if they were no longer the subject of a related development plan policy. He found that when the local plan policy disappeared so too, metaphorically, did the green wedge notations on the proposals map.

A core strategy diagram showed the appeal site as white land between the green wedge and the conurbation. The secretary of state did not share the inspector’s view that a gap between the proposed development and an industrial estate would not undermine the strategic objective of providing and maintaining a green wedge in this location. Nor did he concur with the inspector that, even had the appeal land been in a designated green wedge, the development would leave sufficient green wedge to maintain the separation between settlements.

While the secretary of state concluded that the site was not within a green wedge designated by the relevant development plan, he took account of the council's position that it regarded the site as lying within a long-established green wedge. He agreed with a councillor that development of the appeal site would be "a bridge too far", undermining the objective of providing and maintaining an adequate green wedge in this location.

The secretary of state had regard to the benefits of providing 83 affordable dwellings. However, he found that the likely build time for the scheme and uncertainty as to the number of dwellings that would be built in the initial five-year period somewhat reduced this benefit.

 Inspector: John Braithwaite; Inquiry

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