Social and economic gain given reduced weighting

Countryside harm and loss of farmland have been cited in the secretary of state's decision to refuse permission for 200 homes and a community building in Gloucestershire, against an inspector's recommendation.

The main issues in the case were the lack of a five-year housing land supply, the scheme’s impact on the character and appearance of undesignated countryside, loss of grade 3a agricultural land and traffic impact. The secretary of state concluded that the scheme’s drawbacks outweighed the benefits of providing new homes ahead of local and neighbourhood plan production.

He agreed with the inspector that despite progress on a local plan allocations document and a neighbourhood development plan since the inquiry, a robust housing supply figure could not be provided and the relevant development plan policies could be considered out of date. He agreed that loss of countryside, diminution of views from public footpaths and erosion of the area’s unspoilt quality carried moderate weight.

He also accepted that the proposal had limited impact on traffic generation and junction capacity. However, he took issue with the inspector’s weighing up of the overall benefits of the scheme. He placed less weight on the proposal’s social and economic benefits and gave greater weight to the loss of agricultural land.

Inspector: Neil Pope; Inquiry

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