Parkland countryside defended against housing

An inspector rejected an outline scheme for up to 50 dwellings to include bungalows and provision for older people and 30 per cent affordable housing outside a Lancashire village, after finding substantial harm to the character and appearance of the countryside.

The farmland site lay outside but immediately adjacent to a tightly drawn settlement boundary around a large village. Core strategy policy supported the consolidation, expansion and rounding off of such settlements but only within the defined boundaries and the site fell to be assessed against policy restricting development in the open countryside and potecting landscape.

The council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land despite recent improvements, and the inspector adopted the worst case scenario of 3.86 years laid out by the appellant, such that the settlement boundary was out of date and the presumption in favour of development applied to the scheme. He also noted much of the borough was constrained by green belt and AONB designations. However, core strategy policy also sought to protect other non-designated landscapes.

The character of the site derived from its open parkland appearance and character, and an elevated position above the valley, with expansive views across the site to the wider landscape and was clearly valued by local residents. Whilst the inspector did not consider the site a valued landscape as per the NPPF or that there would be more than minor harm to the setting of the AONB, he found substantial harm to the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and the attractive open parkland setting of part of the village, in conflict with core strategy policies and national policy. Regardless of some additional small harm to the setting of the listed hall with which the parkland was historically associated, he decided this harm to the countryside alone outweighed the housing and other benefits of the scheme and he rejected the proposal.

Inspector: Philip Lewis; Hearing

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