Inspector dismisses rule 6 party concerns in exception site approval

A rural exception site for 20 affordable homes was allowed outside but adjacent to a village settlement boundary in Staffordshire in accordance with the adopted development plan and with no material harm identified despite the loss of a local green space allocated in the emerging neighbourhood plan.

The council had withdrawn their remaining objection, regarding the method of securing the affordable housing, during the inquiry, but the inspector went on to consider the objections of a local residents’ association, a rule 6 party, who had raised concerns about the scheme’s impacts on ecology and the loss of a local green space. The inspector considered the appellant’s ecological appraisal against that of a local ecologist put forward by the rule 6 party but favoured the former due to concerns about the "casual observations" and "unrecognised scientific approach" of the latter. He felt the ecological information did not demonstrate that the site was of such value and importance to elevate its level of protection and suitable mitigation to protect existing important species and their habitat could be secured through condition.

In terms of the rule 6 party’s objection to the loss of local green space used for recreational purposes, the inspector again felt this was not an issue of material harm as the site was not allocated in the adopted local plan but was one of 50 sites identified in the emerging neighbourhood plan. The inspector held that as the neighbourhood plan was only at draft stage it could only be afforded limited weight and allowing the proposal would not be an issue of prematurity in terms of paragraph 49 of the NPPF either. The inspector concluded the proposal met the requirements of the adopted local plan polices and would result in no other harms.

Inspector: Kenneth Stone; Inquiry

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