The proposal comprised 119 flats and eight houses, including 46 discounted market rent units, on an existing allotments site and replacement allotments on another site in metropolitan open land. The private rental housing was intended to generate an income stream to fund millions of pounds’ worth of repair and refurbishment works to the estate, which comprised a grade I listed house in a grade I registered park designed by Capability Brown. The housing site lay outside these heritage assets but the land proposed for the relocated allotments fell just within the park, close to a grade I listed entrance gateway.
The inspector identified harm to the grazed open parkland and the setting of the entrance gateway from the incursion of allotments. In his view, the onus was on the appellant to demonstrate that there was no other way to fund the repairs. He not satisfied that alternative sources of funding could not be found, given the estate’s extensive land and property holdings elsewhere. He concluded that it was unnecessary to harm the park and gateway to achieve the public benefit of repairing and restoring another heritage asset.
He noted that the loss of the existing allotments was contrary to local plan policy unless equivalent or better allotments were provided. In his view, the new allotments were not as good as the existing ones and their relocation would be likely to discourage continued allotment use in the area. He agreed that the proposed allotments would not be inappropriate development within the park as metropolitan open land and that the housing would preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area in which it was proposed. However, he concluded that compliance with the development plan in these respects did not outweigh the identified harm.
Inspector: Nick Fagan; Inquiry