Harm to landscape area more significant than four-year housing shortfall

An outline proposal for 80 dwellings and associated infrastructure was refused on farmland at the edge of a village in Fife, Scotland for harm to the local landscape area in which it was located and harm to the setting of the village itself, despite a serious and ongoing shortfall in housing land supply.

The site had been considered as a candidate site in the preparation of the local plan but was not included in the final, adopted version due to landscape impact concerns. The appellant had provided a landscape and visual impact assessment which concluded an overall minor negative effect on the character of the area after 15 years' maturity of structural planting. But the reporter disagreed with this conclusion, finding that the view across the pronounced volcanic hills and craigs landscape would be significantly obstructed by the proposed new housing by virtue of the local topography, which would have an adverse impact on the local landscape area and the setting of the adjoining village.

In assessing the weight to be afforded the local plan policies, the reporter noted a serious and ongoing shortfall in housing land of only 1.1 years' supply in the relevant housing market area. The council contended that a review of the South East Scotland Plan was nearing completion, and this would reverse the housing supply situation due to unrealistic targets in the current plan. But the reporter opined that whilst this was a potential material consideration, the plan had yet to be accepted by Scottish Ministers and no reasonably firm conclusions could be reached on a reduced housing land requirement. However, the reporter still held that the permanent harm to the local landscape area and the setting of the village was too serious to outweigh the housing need in the area and it therefore conflicted with local and national policies to promote sustainable development in this respect.

Reporter: Richard Hickman: Written representations

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