Setting of grade I listed church prioritised over improving land supply

Preserving the setting of a grade I listed church in Essex was held by an inspector to be more important than improving the supply of housing and this led him to reject a scheme for 71 dwellings.

The church dated from the 12th to 16th centuries and its setting remained predominantly rural, the inspector decided, despite the proximity of some mainly 20th century development. Its tower and roof were very noticeable from a long distance footpath and views of its entrance and graveyard were principally across the appeal site which was open and in agricultural use. These views emphasised the important rural landscape setting of the church and its significance as a listed building, he opined. The majority of its roof would be masked by the new houses and a fragment of its tower that would remain would only seek to confirm that its rural setting had been significantly compromised by built development.

In concluding that the harm, while less than substantial, would outweigh the benefits of providing more open market and affordable housing, the inspector decided that the effect on a local green gap and the landscape was acceptable. The site was relatively well contained and well landscaped and in his opinion would not contravene the visual and physical separation of settlements. This did not however count in favour of allowing the appeal.

Inspector: Nick Fagan; Hearing

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