Retention of local countryside gap outweighs need for housing

98 new homes on agricultural land near to a settlement in Kent were refused as unsustainable development for their significant and demonstrable harm to the character and appearance of the area.

The inspector focussed on the issue of the impact of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area. She noted that the authority could not show a five-year supply of housing land which rendered housing policies protecting this site, outside of the settlement, from development of little weight. However, the inspector commented on the isolation and tranquility of the site despite it being close to a class A road. She held the road provided a clear barrier to the edge of the nearby settlement beyond which the land was of a distinctively different rural character.  The fact that the land was of the highest agricultural quality also added to the environmental harms of the proposal. She concluded that the development would remove a sense of openness contrary to local plan policies which aimed to protect the landscape setting and intrinsic beauty of the countryside and this was sufficient to make the scheme unsustainable in terms of paragraph 14 of the NPPF.

Inspector: DJ Board; Hearing

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