The inspector considered the main issues to be whether the proposal accorded with local and national policy, its impact on the SPA 800 metres from the site and its effect on rural character. The land had been reserved as a housing site until 2025 and removed from the green belt in the adopted local plan.
In considering the five-year housing land supply position, the inspector considered a more recent strategic housing market assessment to reflect the area’s housing needs better than the adopted local plan. He considered that the council’s five-year supply figure was overstated, since the high deliverability of various sites assessed in the document was not evidenced.
He concluded that a five-year supply of housing could not be shown and on this basis the local plan’s housing policies were out of date and the presumption in favour of sustainable development had to apply. He accepted that the proposal would cause a loss of intrinsic countryside character but judged that this was outweighed by the need for housing.
The inspector decided that the development would have no significant effects on the SPA provided that suitable alternative natural greenspace was provided for recreational purposes. He concluded that a Grampian-style condition would achieve this and could be implemented within the lifetime of the permission, despite no obvious land being available for this purpose.
Inspector: Michael Boniface; Hearing