Homes benefits outweigh green belt presumption

The remedial benefits of building 12 homes at a former waste transfer station in Berkshire outweigh harm to the green belt and the area's character, an inspector has ruled.

The inspector considered the main issues to be whether the proposal constituted inappropriate development in the green belt, the scheme’s effect on openness and the area’s character, and whether any harm arising was outweighed by other considerations constituting very special circumstances.

In determining whether the scheme comprised inappropriate development, the inspector considered whether it amounted to redevelopment of previously developed land, namely whether there were permanent structures with associated curtilage covering the site as defined in annex 2 of the NPPF.

He found that although part of the site complied with this definition, not all of it could be regarded as doing so. He remarked that some of the land appeared undeveloped and had a separate curtilage to the main waste transfer area, despite having been subject to waste disposal. With regard to openness, he felt that the proposed housing would have a neutral impact. In terms of character, he judged that it would result in an extension to the built form and have a visible roofscape, leading to diminution of a gap between two settlements contrary to a made neighbourhood plan policy.

The inspector concluded that the proposal was inappropriate development and would harm the area’s character of the area. However, he found that the scheme’s advantages, including cessation of the waste use, visual benefits, remediation of the site, improved woodland and ecology and a boost to housing provision in an area where the council could not identify a five-year supply, outweighed the harm and represented very special circumstances.

Inspector: Mike Robins; Inquiry

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