Landscaping mitigation impact reduced because of reserved matter status

An outline proposal for 59 new homes on the edge of a Bedfordshire village were refused for conflict with the locational policies of the adopted local plan and harm to the appearance and character of the area.

The council’s adopted locational policies directed development to within settlements rather than outside, but the inspector held these had reduced weight because the policies pre-dated the NPPF with respect to their blanket approach to countryside protection. However, he held the increase in housing requirements since the production of the plan in 2009 did not reduce the weight afforded to the policies because the council could show a five-year supply of housing land and were meeting their affordable housing targets. He afforded the policies moderate weight overall in the planning balance.

The appeal site comprised an open agricultural field between the built edge of the village and a community meadow which itself adjoined a river corridor. The inspector felt the appeal site’s buffer function formed an important part of the setting of the meadow and the river corridor and the amount of housing proposed and its proximity to the meadow would significantly harm that setting. He also felt the quantum of development at depth would harm the linear character and grain of the village. He felt the proposed landscaping design scheme could be not be afforded weight in mitigating this harm because landscaping was a reserved matter and no detailed strategy had been submitted. Significant weight was afforded to these character harms and in the final balancing exercise the inspector concluded the cumulative harms were sufficient to outweigh the benefits of the new homes and proposed extension to the community garden.

Inspector: Graham Chamberlain; Hearing

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