Housing scheme dismissed as would harm strategic gap

A scheme for 33 dwellings in Worcestershire has been dismissed due to harm caused to a strategic gap.

200-004-388 (Image Credit: Wychavon District Council)
200-004-388 (Image Credit: Wychavon District Council)

The site was a field that was surrounded by industrial/employment premises, a school and residential properties. Nonetheless, the site stood beyond the development boundary of a nearby town. The site was also within comfortable walking distance of a range of services and facilities. An inspector found that the scheme would increase the supply and choice of housing, had no major constraints and would be available and viable. The housing to be delivered would also include 13 affordable homes in an area where the evidence indicated that affordable housing was much needed and at a higher rate than required by the local plan, 40 per cent compared to 30 per cent. The weight given to these matters, though, was limited by the presence of a NPPF-compliant supply of housing land.

With regard to a landscape character local plan policy the inspector referred to Bloor Homes East Midlands Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2013]. This determined that the judgment in Anita Colman v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Others [2013], in which it was found that certain policies were very far removed from the cost/benefit approach of the NPPF because they did not permit any countervailing economic or similar benefit to be weighed in the balance, did not mean that every development plan policy which sought to restrict development would be incompatible with the NPPF and thus out-of-date, provided that it qualified that restriction by saying it could be overcome by the benefits of a particular proposal. The judge in Bloor Homes found that the question of whether a particular development plan policy was or was not consistent with the NPPF would depend on the specific terms of the policy and of the corresponding parts of the NPPF, when both were read in their full context. Consequently, the inspector found that it did not necessarily follow that the policy must be out-of-date. Overall, however, the proposals would result in the development of a part of the countryside within a designated strategic gap. It would also reduce the characteristic openness of that gap and cause harm to the character and appearance of the area.

Inspector: Gwilym Jones; Hearing

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