Judge backs inspector over landscape value ruling

A High Court judge has dismissed a Gloucestershire council's legal challenge against a planning inspector's approval of nearly 100 homes near Chepstow.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

Forest of Dean District Council had sought to overturn planning inspector George Baird’s approval for 95 new homes off Gloucester Road in Tutshill.

In his January decision, Baird concluded that the site of the proposed development was "not a valued landscape". In his view, It was "typical" of the wider area, with gently undulating hills, a patchwork of fields, hedgerows and scattered farmhouses.

He found that the appeal site had "no particular landscape features" and, although no doubt appreciated by locals, was not "valued" in planning terms. He saw nothing about the site that took it "beyond mere countryside".

Council lawyers argued that Baird erred in saying that, in order to be "valued", the site had to have some special planning designation. Mr Justice Hickinbottom agreed that some of the wording of the inspector's decision was "less than optimal".

However, the judge ruled that when the inspector's decision was read as a whole, his value judgement was legitimate and he made no error of law. Thepermission was upheld.

Forest of Dean District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/978/2016

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