Green wedge discounted on urban fringe homes

A green wedge designation in an adopted local plan has not saved open countryside on the edge of a County Durham town from being released for 300 homes.

The council could not show a five-year supply of housing land, so the main issue was whether any significant adverse effects from the proposal prevented permission being granted in a sustainable edge-of-town location. The inspector considered the appeal scheme’s impact on the area’s character and appearance, including the site's designation as a green wedge intended to protect the settlement’s setting.

He acknowledged that the site was valued as a recreational area for dog walking, but found it "unremarkable" in character rather than being a "valued landscape" for the purposes of the NPPF. The green wedge designation did not alter his conclusion on this point. In his view, the site was well contained and screened and would form a natural extension of the settlement.

The inspector concluded that the development would not have an adverse effect on the town’s setting, since long-distance views across the site were set against a backdrop of trees and existing buildings. The green wedge policy was technically out of date because it restricted housing, he remarked. But in any event, he found that the development would not adversely affect the area’s character, so there was no reason for withholding permission.

Inspector: John Braithwaite: Inquiry

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