Village held wrong place for mixed development

Concerns over impact on community life have led an inspector to refuse permission for a mixed housing and commercial development on the edge of a small Kent village.

200-007-052 (Image Credit: Swale BC)
200-007-052 (Image Credit: Swale BC)

The proposal included up to 77 dwellings, business space and a shop. Addressing the scheme’s visual impact, the inspector decided that the requirement to protect valued landscapes in paragraph 109 of the NPPF was engaged because the site had intrinsic merit locally and in a wider context. Despite limited public views into the site, he found that its frontage would be opened and this would be prominent from a main road. The scheme would not protect a wooded fringe or the settlement’s setting, he held.

The village sat relatively low in the settlement hierarchy below rural service centres, the nearest of which lay about a kilometre away. Local services were restricted to a village hall, with a pub and farm shop just outside. The inspector recognised that alternatives to car transport were available, in the form of regular buses to neighbouring towns. However, he was concerned that the proposal’s scale exceeded the spatial strategy in the council’s local plan and would not be sustainable.

Even if a lapse rate was included in housing land supply calculations, he decided that the council could demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land. He applied limited weight to the government’s recent consultation on a standard methodology for assessing housing need, not least because the local plan had been adopted within the past five years and so the proposed approach would not apply.

Inspector: Nick Palmer; Inquiry

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