Housing strategy prevails in paragraph 14 tilted balance case

An outline proposal for 200 dwellings on agricultural land outside a settlement boundary in Leicestershire was refused mainly as contrary to the locational policies of the development plan overall, despite the original policy identifying the settlement boundary being considered out of date in the context of paragraph 14 of the NPPF.

An overriding issue in the case related to the proposal's compliance or otherwise with the locational policies of the development plan. The site fell outside the settlement boundary which was identified in a saved local plan policy. Whilst, the council could show a five-year supply of housing land, the inspector held the tilted balance in paragraph 14 of the NPPF still applied as one of the applicable policies for limiting built development, that identifying settlement boundaries in the saved local plan, was out of date and carried little weight. This was because it was not based on the full objectively assessed housing need and pre-dated the Framework. However, the inspector afforded considerable weight to a later adopted core strategy policy which, although not specifying development boundaries, included the need to retain countryside being balanced against the need to provide new development in the most sustainable locations, which he felt did accord with the aims of the NPPF.

Notably, the inspector found no significant adverse effects on appearance and character, only limited visual harm, but he ultimately found conflict with the housing strategy to concentrate new development in urban locations, especially as committed developments in this and similar villages in the hierarchy were already exceeding their supply quota by around 60 per cent. 

In the planning balance, the conflict with the more up to date locational policy, limited harm to the character and appearance of the countryside and a loss of 9.8 hectares of high quality agricultural land outweighed the social benefits of the scheme.

Inspector: Philip Lewis; Inquiry


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