Inspector supports refusal of unenforceable highways condition

An outline scheme for up to 52 dwellings on the edge of a rural service centre in Oxfordshire was refused for its unsuitable location, harm to the appearance and character of the area, harm to heritage assets and unsuitable access.

The site was located one kilometre from the centre of the settlement in open countryside but accessed by a mostly unadopted lane in a poor state of repair. The inspector noted there were no footpaths along the lane and that it did not benefit from street lighting and, on this basis, she felt the reality was that the route into town would not be attractive to those with children, the elderly or the disabled and so residents would likely rely on the private car to access services and facilities.

The inspector concluded the site was not in a suitable or sustainable location in adopted local or national policy terms. With respect to the access to the site, the inspector held the appellant had not demonstrated that this could be suitably provided, and this was because part of the lane was unregistered with no known landowner. Whilst the inspector acknowledged the appellant was a "frontager" with rights regarding adoption, she did not feel there was sufficient evidence to show that other owners in the lane would initiate adoption proceedings under the Highways Act. She also felt the county council’s suggested condition to overcome this issue was unenforceable because of the land ownership issues. 

An award of costs against the council, for requiring the appellant to provide further evidence regarding land ownership issues and for not following the advice of the county highways authority was refused, the inspector agreeing with the district council that the county council’s suggested condition was unenforceable and at odds with the tests set out in the NPPF.

Inspector: J Ayres; Written representations

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