Berkeley Strategic Land appealed after Hart District Council failed to determine its outline application in time for a greenfield site near the town of Fleet.
The plans would include a community facility, 169 affordable homes and the creation of a suitable alternative natural greenspace (SANG) as an extension to Edenbrook Country Park.
According to the decision letter by inspector Kevin Gleeson, the council indicated it would have refused planning permission because of the location of the proposed development within a designated local gap and concerns over highway safety.
The eastern part of the site is in a local gap between Fleet and the village of Crookham, designated in saved policies of the most recent local plan, First Alterations to the Hart District Local Plan (Replacement) 1996-2006.
The plan’s policy CON21 prohibits development "within identified local gaps", Gleeson’s letter says. In addition, because the appeal site is outside of Fleet’s settlement boundary, the proposals are "not in accordance with the development plan as a whole", he found.
However, Gleeson said he attached "moderate weight" to policy CON21 and the other relevant policies in the plan because they are out-of-date.
According to paragraph 14 of the NPPF, he writes, "where relevant policies of the development plan are out-of-date, planning permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the framework as a whole, or specific policies indicate development should be restricted".
"No such restrictive policies apply in this case," he found. Though "there would be some harm from development in the countryside and some harm to the valued landscape of the appeal site contrary", the development’s "contribution to the supply of housing" would carry "significant weight".
Gleeson also dismissed concerns over the impact on highways safety, which centred on the size and design of a southern site access roundabout. He concluded "that the site can be accessed appropriately in terms of highway safety".
The council is currently preparing the emerging Hart District Local Plan, 2011-2032, having withdrawn a previous draft local pan in September 2013 that failed the duty to cooperate.