Village homes refused on heritage and landscape

Harm to heritage assets and a valued landscape has led to refusal of an outline proposal for up to 80 houses, including 40 per cent affordable, on the edge of an historic Essex village.

The council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land and local policies were therefore out of date unless specific NPPF policies indicated that development should be restricted. On that basis, the inspector judged that development plan heritage policies did not carry full weight because they did not make provision for the public benefit balancing exercise required by paragraph 134 of the NPPF.

In applying that balance, he concluded that less than substantial harm to the setting of a listed farmhouse and barns and grade I listed village church had not been clearly and convincingly justified by the housing and economic benefits of the scheme. These benefits, he found, were no more than would be expected of almost any similar sized housing scheme and did not provide specific justification for the proposed development.

The appellants claimed that there was nothing special about the countryside around the village and that local policy amounted to a blanket ban on development that was no longer consistent with national policy. They also argued that the types of policies restricting development listed in footnote 9 of the NPPF are simply examples and do not preclude application of other policies within the framework.

The inspector found attributes in the village’s landscape setting, including tranquillity, which took it beyond mere countryside. He had no doubt that it was a valued landscape that would be harmed by a 25 per cent increase in the developed area of the village onto an elevated site. Finding no reason to set aside local policy, he refused the appeal.

Inspector: Nick Fagan; Inquiry

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