The 7.4-hectare site comprised arable farmland between the urban edge and an outlying village. The main issues related to the interpretation of the local plan’s strategic policies and the level of harm to be afforded to the impact on a green gap and the setting of nearby listed buildings. The council was in the process of pursuing a different housing site through an emerging allocations plan and could show at least a five-year supply of housing land, the inspector noted.
The secretary of state agreed with the inspector that these factors were not determinative because the emerging plan could only be afforded limited weight and the housing target was a minimum figure. However, he found that there was still a conflict with the adopted strategic policy for the area, which specifically stated that large sites in open countryside should only be brought forward through an allocations plan or a neighbourhood plan.
On the remaining issues, the secretary of state agreed with the inspector that the scheme would result in harm to the landscape between the two settlements by reducing the visual, physical and perceptual gap between them, particularly by developing along an open ridge, and that it would significantly harm the setting of a nearby manor house and church. He afforded greater weight to the scheme’s conflict with the development plan and its environmental drawbacks than to the economic and social benefits of new market and affordable housing.
Inspector: Nick Fagan; Inquiry