The only issue in the case was whether there were sufficient special circumstances to justify the harm to the green belt caused by the enabling development through inappropriateness and loss of openness.
The hall was listed for its historical and rarity value and was also designated a scheduled monument but was disused, in a poor condition and listed on the Heritage at Risk register. An unchallenged viability assessment had revealed that the conservation of the hall and its associated barn could not be achieved without the enabling residential development and equestrian uses. The inspector afforded considerable weight in his deliberations to the seven tests in Historic England’s document Enabling Development and the Conservation of Significant Places, September 2008. He found that the sympathetic scheme would not materially harm the heritage values of the hall or its setting, would avoid the detrimental fragmentation of its management and a planning obligation would secure its conservation and long-term maintenance. He did not feel that the hall’s condition was a result of neglect and he was convinced no other subsidies were available for its conservation and maintenance. Finally, he held that the proposal represented the minimum number of houses required to progress the works and sought to minimise harm to the green belt by utilising portions of the site previously occupied by buildings and hardstanding. He concluded the tests were met and there was sufficient overall public benefit in the hall being conserved and maintained, despite it not being made open to the public, for the tests in the NPPF to be met too.
Inspector: G J Fort; Hearing