The site comprised the grounds of an existing factory on the outskirts of a market town and open countryside beyond. An application for some 20,000 square metres of employment space within the factory site was called in in January. At the same time, the secretary of state recovered an appeal for an alternative scheme proposing additional employment space on the factory site and 150 homes on open countryside beyond it.
A saved development plan policy allocated the site for employment purposes. The secretary of state accorded this only moderate weight after identifying tensions with heritage policies, giving limited weight to the absence of any allocation in a stalled emerging replacement plan. He agreed with the inspector that the site should be considered part of a valued landscape in NPPF terms because of its location within a WHS buffer zone, the surviving historic field pattern and the very positive contribution of the unchanged historic countryside.
He was concerned that further encroachment of modern development would urbanise the historic agricultural setting of a listed farmhouse and the market town conservation area. He concluded that the schemes’ public benefits, including the provision of 150 new homes in an area with a significant shortfall in housing supply, did not outweigh less than substantial harm to the significance of heritage assets,.
In light of his conclusions on the heritage balancing exercise, the secretary of state considered that NPPF policies protecting areas or assets of particular importance provided clear reason for refusing the proposed developments. Despite the housing shortfall, he was satisfied that the presumption in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 11(d) of the NPPF did not apply to the schemes.
Inspector: Colin Ball; Inquiry
DCS Number 200-007-962 = 150 dwelling mixed use scheme
DCS Number 200-007-964 = Employment scheme