Green gap policy found up to date and effective

A large mixed-use development has been rejected on land in Kent because of its impact on a designated green gap between two settlements.

The scheme comprised up to 290 dwellings, a primary school, a 24-unit care home, more than 18 hectares of green space and a range of commercial uses on a 26-hectare site. The inspector found that its impact on the function and character of the green gap was the main issue.

A local plan adopted in 2006 defined the extent of the green gap and sought to limit development affecting its open character and function. The plan period was originally scheduled to expire in 2011, but a draft emerging plan continued to express strong support for retaining the gap despite being subject to a range of unresolved objections.

The inspector disagreed with the appellant that the age of the adopted local plan meant the green gap policy should be given little weight. Instead, she judged it necessary to examine its consistency with the NPPF. In her opinion, the policy was consistent with paragraph 17 of the framework, which states that planning decisions should take into account the different role and character of different areas. She also acknowledged that the emerging plan designated greenfield land and parts of other green gaps for housing, which she felt was consistent with the need to meet the area’s development needs.

She found that the sense of openness between the two settlements experienced by drivers and walkers would be completely lost should the development proceed. In her view, the land’s open character and function as part of the green gap would be significantly affected, contrary to the adopted local plan. This harm was not outweighed by the need to significantly boost the supply of open market and affordable housing or job creation benefits, she concluded.

Inspector: Jessica Graham; Inquiry

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