The council had previously identified the site as having some potential for housing development. At the appeal, however, it argued that the scheme was unacceptable because it would not maintain the character and separate identity of a neighbouring village. The scheme would erode a locally valued landscape and cause adverse highway effects due to the substandard nature of a planned new roundabout, it asserted.
In noting that the gap between the two settlements varied, the inspector deduced that reducing it by approximately one-third would still provide sufficient space to ensure that it performed a useful planning role and prevented unacceptable visual and physical coalescence. The village would retain its separate identity and character, he opined.
He agreed that the site had landscape characteristics that made it more than simply ordinary, so paragraph 109 of the NPPF applied. He acknowledged that local people valued the area for its recreation and amenity value. However, he judged that the main elements of woodland cover, vegetation and recreational use would be protected and enhanced by the scheme, so the adverse impact of introducing built development would be localised.
Since the site could be accessed safely and various local plan policies were out of date, he concluded that paragraph 14 of the NPPF was engaged. The harm to the green gap and local landscape did not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of open market and affordable housing provision.
Inspector: Kevin Gleeson; Inquiry