SOS downgrades weight given to valued landscape in overturned decision

26 dwellings in open countryside outside a settlement in Derbyshire were allowed by the secretary of state in a recovered appeal for his own determination for their much needed contribution to housing supply, contrary to the original recommendation for refusal on landscape grounds.

The secretary of state agreed with his inspector that the main issues were the proposal's compliance or not with local and national policy and its impact on landscape character. The secretary of state agreed that the local plan was out of date and the neighbourhood plan was unexamined and contested and therefore the policies in both documents in relation to housing could only be given limited weight. But he also held that the weight given in respect of landscape in one of the policies was also limited because it related to outdated areas of settlement limits and therefore constrained housing supply. This did not reflect the need to find housing in the area, one of significant shortfall, with less than two years' supply of housing land. In this respect he disagreed with his inspector who had indirectly given that element of the policy greater weight than should have been attributed.

Additional to this, the secretary of state disagreed with his inspector that the weight given to the accepted harm to the landscape character of the area was "substantial" when it affected an undesignated landscape, albeit it was considered "valued", being only locally designated as a special landscape area in the out of date plan. The secretary of state downgraded this assessment of weight to "modest" and in the final planning balance, this tipped the scales in favour of the scheme as the weight afforded to the provision of market and affordable housing by the secretary of state was determined as "significant".

Inspector: JC Clarke; Inquiry

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