Unplanned village extension not supported by housing need

An outline scheme for up to 150 homes, of which 40 per cent would be affordable, has been dismissed by an inspector who concluded the loss of Essex countryside had not been justified.

The inspector considered that the appeal site on the edge of a village was viewed as part of the open countryside sweeping out towards an estuary, and a housing estate here would appear as a projection of suburban development intruding into open countryside.

The inspector concluded that it was probable the council had a five-year supply of housing land and there was no pressing need to release sites outside of settlement boundaries, even though these were adopted some time previously in a local plan drawn up in a time of development restraint. The inspector was clear that his findings on five-year supply should not prejudice the emerging local plan, given the limitations of a section 78 appeal in establishing need and that assessing housing needs was not an exact science anyway

In the final balance of deciding whether the scheme represented sustainable development, the inspector concluded the significant harm to open countryside was contrary to current national policy seeking to ensure that new development recognises the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, and this outweighed the social and economic benefits of development that could equally be achieved through a plan-led approach.

Inspector: Jonathan Manning; Inquiry

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