Appeal Court overturns High Court refusal for 400 homes near Derbyshire country house

The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court decision to refuse planning consent for a 400-home development close to a Grade I-listed country house in Derbyshire.

Kedleston Hall (pic: Chris Hoare via Flickr)
Kedleston Hall (pic: Chris Hoare via Flickr)

In August 2016, inspector John Gray allowed developer Catesby Estates’ appeal against Amber Valley District Council's decision to refuse outline permission for up to 400 homes near the Grade I listed Kedleston Hall, which is managed by the National Trust, in July 2015.

The new housing estate, on a 17-hectare site that is currently farmland, would be 550 metres away from the edge of the hall's parkland and would also include a convenience store.

Local campaigner, Peter Steer, and fellow members of the Kedleston Voice pressure group, launched a legal challenge against the plans after the appeal decision. The plans also prompted objections from government adviser Historic England.

In June last year, the High Court ruled that the inspector took an "artificially narrow approach" when considering the need to protect the setting of the stately home.

The Court of Appeal has today overturned that decision. Lord Justice Lindblom could find no flaw in the planning inspector's decision to grant outline consent for the development.

The judge rejected claims that the inspector took a too narrow approach to defining "the setting" of Kedleston Hall and its registered park and gardens.

He was entitled to focus on the lack of a visual or physical connection between the development site and the hall, which is screened behind a bank of trees.

The inspector had not simply set the historical connections "to one side", recognising their significance to the hall's setting, the judge said.

"He did not concentrate on visual and physical factors to the exclusion of everything else," Lord Justice Lindblom added.

And he had properly applied planning policies to the setting of the hall and other heritage assets in the area.

The inspector accepted that the development site was "part of the visual and historical setting" of the hall's park, the judge said.

But so was the nearby built up area of Allestree and the new estate's impact would be "at the lower end of less than substantial harm", he added.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice McFarlane and Lady Justice Asplin, upheld Catesby Estates' appeal and confirmed the planning permission.

Law firm Eversheds Sutherland represented Catesby Estates.

Eversheds Sutherlands' national head of planning and infrastructure consenting, Stuart Andrews, who led the team, said: "There has been sufficient ambiguity as to the proper assessment of heritage impacts to ensure that this is now the key risk to most development and regeneration projects.

"The Kedleston judgement is an important step forward in clarifying the law and will hopefully help address the risks associated with promoting development where the impact upon heritage assets is a particular challenge."

Kedleston Hall was built in the 18th century and designed by celebrated Scottish architect George Adam,

Catesby Estates Limited v Steer. Case Number: C1/2017/1840

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