Inspector John Braithwaite last week allowed an appeal by joint applicants Story Homes and the Durham Diocesan Board of Finance against Durham County Council’s refusal of their proposal for a 14.3-hectare site on the edge of Sedgefield.
He concluded that the scheme would have no wider landscape impacts beyond the site itself and that the scheme would constitute sustainable development.
Assessing the landscape impact of the proposal, Braithwaite accepted that it would "have a profound effect on the character of the site; its rural character would be replaced by a residential development of decidedly urban character".
But he said the proposal would be contained by adjacent development, and therefore "would not have any significant adverse effect on the landscape character of the wider area."
He rejected the suggestion by the scheme’s opponents that the site should be classed as a valued landscape, and therefore be protected under paragraph 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
"The appeal site has value but is not a valued landscape," he said. "It is valued by the local community but it is unremarkable in character."
The applicants had sought outline permission for 220 homes and full permission for 80 homes on the site, and the council had accepted that it could not demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.
It was only able to show a supply of between 4.04-4.65 years, and therefore accepted that paragraph 49 of the NPPF was engaged, triggering the presumption in favour of sustainable development.