Urban edge housing harms transition to countryside

A proposed scheme of 67 new dwellings on the overgrown site of a former plant nursery outside the settlement boundary a Kent town was rejected by an inspector for failing to protect area character or provide small houses.

The main parties agreed that the appeal site was not previously-developed land. In respect of the impact of development here on area character, the inspector decided the proposed development would erode the existing gentle visual transition from urban to rural. Development would erode the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside contrary to a local policy held by the inspector to accord with NPPF policy as it did impose a blanket ban on all development within the countryside of the district.

The council took issue with the proposed mix of the 47 market housing units, in particular, the lack of any one-bedroom units as per the SHMA. The appellant pointed to evidence of greater market demand for larger dwellings over the next few decades and also questioned the appropriateness of incorporating one-bedroom units, normally flats, into an area of traditional family housing. The inspector considered that there remained an, albeit smaller, projected demand for one-bedroom dwellings, which a scheme of this size should be expected to deliver, and noted there are many ways to design such small units so that they appear as typical houses.

In reaching his final decision, the inspector did not apply the tilted balance in favour of sustainable development set out at paragraph 11 of the NPPF, even though the council could not show a five-year supply of housing land, because a requirement for a Habitats Regulations Appropriate Assessment of the effects of development on a coastal SAC, SPA and Ramsar site activated paragraph 177 and disengaged the tilted balance. The inspector concluded the harm to the adopted development plan, policies of the NPPF, and harm to the character and appearance of the area were not overcome by the benefits of market and 30 per cent affordable housing in a sustainable location and dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Callum Parker; Inquiry

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