The appeal site comprised 5.5 hectares of farmland, parkland and orchard. One portion was designated as an unregistered park and garden with some biodiversity importance. A grade II listed manor house, a grade II listed hall and a listed barn lay in the vicinity of the site.
In assessing the scheme’s impact, the council used English Heritage’s Seeing History in the View guidance, claiming that this methodology had wide applicability. The appellants asserted that it should only be used to assess specific views recognised as important. In this case, they stated, no important site-specific views of the heritage assets had been identified.
The inspector agreed that the council’s assessment had inflated the level of harm to the setting of the listed hall and its barn, which was being converted to a dwelling. The harm caused would lie at the lower end of the "less than substantial" scale set out in paragraph 134 of the NPPF, he found. He agreed that there was a degree of historical association between part of the appeal site and the manor house setting, but found that this relationship had changed significantly. The impact on the parkland was also less than substantial, he found.
Turning to the impact on character and appearance, the inspector decided that the parkland would lose its traditional parkland appearance. Despite its relatively small size, he decided that it fell within the definition of a valued landscape in the context of paragraph 109 of the NPPF. Its historical association with the manor house was indicative that it was valued locally, he held.
The inspector noted that the shortfall in housing land supply, which stood at less than four years, had largely arisen from difficulties in delivering a number of sustainable urban extensions. He recognised that the council’s actions in seeking to remedy the undersupply were important considerations. In assessing the planning balance, he supported the council’s concern that the scale of the development, taken in combination with other developments in the parish would not promote a healthy and inclusive community.
He agreed that the proposal would deliver a number of economic benefits but was sceptical about the need to make more affordable housing available when this would be provided by committed developments in the area. The harm to heritage assets, the area’s character and the valued landscape significantly and demonstrably outweighed the benefit, he advised. The secretary of state agreed.
Inspector: David Wildsmith; Inquiry