The site lay in a pocket of AGLV within the setting of an AONB but closely related to the urban edge. Given its location, the inspector decided development here would not have a material impact on the nearby AONB, and the layout, open spaces, opportunity for landscaping and visual containment of the development scheme meant it would not adversely impact on the character and appearance of the locality.
On the second main issue of whether the proposed development would provide an adequate mix of housing to meet identified needs across the district, the inspector accepted the appellants’ point that the lower numbers of small dwellings and greater proportion of four-bedroomed properties was an appropriate response to the edge-of-settlement site location. Furthermore, the scheme would provide more than the minimum number of affordable homes required by local plan policy and the inspector considered this weighed heavily in favour of the proposals in terms of supporting a mixed community and against any mathematical shortfall in the mix of units to be provided. He concluded on this issue that the proposals would provide a satisfactory range of housing that would assist in building a mixed and varied community.
The inspector rejected the appellants’ arguments that the ‘tilted balance’ of paragraph 11 of the NPPF should apply on the basis that a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites was lacking, and that both the neighbourhood plan and a very recently adopted local plan were out-of-date, the latter being predicated on a part two housing site allocations plan not yet in place. Nevertheless, he considered any harm from the scheme to be outweighed by its benefits and general compliance with the development plan, and good progress by the council towards an updated neighbourhood and site allocation plans was not a reason for not positively considering the proposals now. He concluded in favour of the sustainable development, having conducted an appropriate assessment and found there would be no significant effect on the integrity of the Thames Basin Heath SPA, and allowed the appeal.
Inspector: Philip Asquith; Inquiry