Housing plans held alien to protected landscape

Outline permission for up to 25 dwellings near a Gloucestershire village has been denied after an inspector found they would harm the setting of the Cotswolds AONB.

The inspector held that the proposal would not protect or enhance the landscape character of a special landscape area, including its role in providing the foreground setting to the adjacent AONB. He considered that it would introduce an environment typical of many suburban housing developments across Britain over the last 50 years and would appear as a totally alien feature in the rural landscape, physically extending the settlement limits.

In respect of layout, he feared that the development would be seen as relatively isolated, inward looking and exclusive, rather than being totally integrated into the settlement’s physical and social structure of the settlement. He found the site’s comparatively unsustainable location contrary to paragraph 34 of the NPPF, thus weighing significantly against any proposal that did not meet identified local needs.

The inspector accepted that the need for housing might outweigh the identified environmental harm should a proposal that clearly met identified local needs be presented, but the evidence did not suggest to him that applied at present. Consequently, he concluded that the scheme did not represent sustainable development as defined in the NPPF.

Inspector: Mel Middleton; Written representations

Comment: Even though the appeal site was hemmed in on three sides by the AONB boundary, a council landscape study suggested that it was one of the two least visually sensitive potential development sites in the parish. As well as voicing concerns over the elongated layout proposes, the inspector considered the appearance of new housing schemes "critical" in maintaining the scenic beauty of designated areas along the adjacent main highway, which linked several tourist destinations. In other recent cases, inspectors’ concerns over the impact of new homes on settlements’ landscape settings have been key factors in the rejection of plans for 20 houses in a Kent village (DCS Number 400-009-227) and 97 dwellings on the edge of a Hampshire town (DCS Number 200-004-245).

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