Modest design passed on new country homes test

An 'unassuming' design for a dwelling on the site of former farm buildings in a Kent AONB meets national policy tests for new homes in the countryside, an inspector has decided.

Even though the council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land, the parties agreed that the NPPF presumption in favour of sustainable development was disapplied by the European Court of Justice ruling in People over Wind and Sweetman v Coillte Teoranta because the potential impact on a coastal SPA habitat required appropriate assessment.

In line with Braintree District Council v SSCLG and Others [2018], they also agreed that the site was not isolated due to its location on the edge of a hamlet, so the design did not have to meet the high threshold of exceptional quality laid down in paragraph 79 of the NPPF  The inspector declared the design of the scheme very successful in its setting, resulting in no harm to the character and appearance of the countryside or the special qualities of the AONB. Indeed, he saw an element of enhancement to the designated area and the setting of nearby listed buildings.

He praised the fact the unassuming house had been designed to cater for the appellants’ retirement needs and would be suitable for other future occupiers, rather than serving the whims or fancies of a particular occupant. In his view, these positive considerations, reinforced by the lack of a five-year supply of housing land in the area, provided unusual and compelling justification for allowing a new dwelling in the countryside, contrary to the aims of settlement hierarchy policies.

Inspector: Stephen Papworth; Hearing

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