The site lay directly adjacent to the settlement boundary in coastal plain countryside and within the buffer zone of estuarial SPA, SAC and Ramsar sites. As the proposal had been the subject of appropriate assessment under the Habitat Regulations, the inspector recorded that the presumption in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 11 of the NPPF did not apply. He went on to determine the appeal in accordance with the development plan.
In his assessment, an adopted local plan policy that aimed to restrict development in the countryside unless certain criteria were met pre-dated and was out of step with the NPPF. Although he did not consider that this local policy imposed blanket protection over the countryside, he found that it lacked the flexible and balanced approach set out in more up-to-date national policy.
On that basis, the inspector gave the policy reduced weight. The fact that the authority could clearly demonstrate a five-year housing land supply did not affect or increase the weight he accorded to this finding. In allowing the appeal, he found only limited harm to landscape character from the urbanising effect of the proposed development but gave significant weight to the benefit of boosting housing supply and the local economy.
Inspector: Phillip Ware; Inquiry