Sustainable location examined by travel distances

Despite exceeding guidance on the distance people are prepared to walk to access services, an inspector decided that outline permission should be granted for housing in east Sussex, concluding that there was a range of alternative and sustainable travel modes.

A table of travel distances submitted by the appellant indicated that residents would have to walk between 1,500 and 2,000 metres to access a small store at a petrol station, and a secondary school and train station were more distant still. The walking distances exceeded those recommended by the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation and in the government publication Manual for Streets. Nonetheless, the inspector concluded that other sustainable modes of transport existed including low and ultra-low emission vehicles, car sharing and public transport. Others would cycle, he decided. By rural standards the site was served by a good bus service such that overall it was in a sustainable location.

The site lay close to a SSSI, Ramsar site and special area of conservation, and a European Court of Justice judgment held that any mitigation required should be assessed in the context of an appropriate assessment having been undertaken and this could not be done before such an assessment was provided. A significant effect was predicted by the appellant’s consultants but this could be mitigated by the use of conditions including the provision of a sustainable drainage system.

The council was unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land and the impact on the landscape and the setting of a listed building were judged acceptable. Since paragraph 177 of the NPPF applied, the normal rather than tilted balance applied, and in the inspector's opinion the need to boost the supply of housing and the benefits it delivered supported the appeal.

Inspector: Paul Clark; Hearing

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